Next time you’re sitting at the DFAC in Balad, sipping a Rip It, scarfing a cheeseburger served by a Sri Lankan, relaxing in the air conditioning and avoiding walking into the blast furnace that is the Iraqi climate, just keep this in mind: You’re the reason there are no more Space Shuttle flights.
The former chief logistician in Iraq told National Public Radio that the military spends more than $20 billion annually on air conditioning for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. That cost, the network notes, is larger than NASA’s budget.
Of course, cool air alone doesn’t really cost $20 billion. From the story:
“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. He’s a retired brigadier general who served as chief logistician for Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq. He’s now in the private sector, selling technologies branded as energy-efficient to the Defense Department.
Now it’s important to note that wrapped up in Anderson’s $20 billion figure are all kind of other expenditures – for instance, the cost of building and maintaining roads in Afghanistan, securing those roads, managing the security operations for those roads. That all costs a lot of money and is part of the overall war effort in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon shot down those calculations. But the overall point of the story — that it makes sense for the military to go greener — is pretty dang interesting.