In what is just another example in a long stream of such, the US Army is beginning to realize that it is not only good for publicity, but essentially cheaper, to turn their operations green… er. Going green was never solely about making some cheap points on the PR board; it has, from the start, been a cheaper option across the board.
The Army had begun pushing for environmental sustainability in all of their bases, starting with Fort Bragg in North Carolina. And they’re thinking it through as well; not only are they thinking about the current footprint (I’m not going to say it), they’re thinking about the future as well. Since 2001, each village set up within Fort Bragg for training purposes has been made up of shipping containers, reducing the cost from $400,000 to $25,000, and keeping the shipping containers out of the solid waste stream.
But the goal is not solely to save money, but also lives as well.
One of the most common reports we would hear in the early days of the Iraq war and the War on Terror in Afghanistan, would be convoys encountering IED’s, or Improvised Explosive Devices, along the side of the road.
The main reason that these convoys had to make the long trek to the forward command posts was to transfer fuel from A to B. And the more trucks in the convoys, the more soldiers there were, and thus the more risk there was to more people.
“If we can reduce consumption on our forward operating bases by using renewable energy, let’s say wind or solar instead of a diesel generator outside the tent … then we can reduce the number of these supply convoys that need to come forward that are getting hit by these IEDs,” said Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health.
Another saving that the Army has made of late is to spray their tents with foam insulation. After a recent survey of U.S. forward bases in Djibouti, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan showed that 85 percent or more of the power was used for air conditioning, to provide comfort sleeping and keep communications equipment cool, something had to be done. The foam insulation has now shown to cut the loss of energy by 45%.
One aspect of the military that has hit a sticking point in going green is Army vehicles. Keeping our troops safe is a priority, and shouldn’t be put by the sidelines for anything. Hence, many of the vehicles have to rely on heavy armor to prevent lessening the safety for troops inside. However, according to Davis, “There’s emerging technology that is providing lighter-weight armor, so I think at some point … you’re going to see more hybrid vehicles in the tactical military fleet.”
And as for the notion that the US military is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses on the planet, Davis questions the notion, and hopes that an online tracking program started in June will bring a favorable result.
U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Micah E. Clare
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