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Saving Lives On the Battlefield With Green Tech

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.

The Military 188

Harperdog writes "This article describes the efforts by some in the Pentagon to save lives by using renewable energy in the battlefield. 'Seventy percent of all convoys carried liquid fossil fuels, and attacks on convoys ... account for about half of all the casualties. Generators consumed more of the fuel brought in than did combat vehicles and air support.' It's a good description of energy efficient projects already happening in Iraq. '... the first significant response in a combat zone came with the investment of almost $100 million for insulating thousands of tents in the two war zones. Before, air conditioners in summer and heaters in winter powered by generators controlled the climate inside the tents used as barracks, dining halls and offices. Now they spray foam so it covers the exterior of the tents like shaving cream. Foaming the tents saves the military $2 million a day in avoided energy costs. This translates into a payback of less than two months. It saves 100,000 gallons of fuel per day, taking 4,000 trucks off the road each year."

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Saving lives (4, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094710)

Anybody ever find that phrase ironic when applied to the military?

Granted, this isn't directly like some of the more egregious examples. Usually, "saving lives" involves killing more of "them".

Re:Saving lives (2, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094816)

I sometimes wonder how often the idea "We could eliminate 100% of American troop casualties if we just kill everybody else in the world. if there is nobody else to fight, then we don't have to send anybody over there, and we eliminate all possibility of getting shot by enemy forces" surfaces in high level discussions.

I'm thinking the only reason it gets shot down is because they then realize they'd be out of their jobs.

Re:Saving lives (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094938)

>I'm thinking the only reason it gets shot down is because they then realize they'd be out of their jobs.

Don't fret there's always civil wars, religious "cults", war on some drugs, etc.

Conquering Sex. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095138)

Battle of the sexes.

Re:Conquering Sex. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095418)

Battle of the sexes.

Oh, believe me: in that one you don't want to eliminate the opponent.

Re:Saving lives (3, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094968)

I sometimes wonder how often the idea "We could eliminate 100% of American troop casualties if we just kill everybody else in the world. if there is nobody else to fight, then we don't have to send anybody over there, and we eliminate all possibility of getting shot by enemy forces" surfaces in high level discussions.

I'm going to guess just about never, except in your histrionic fever dreams where everybody in the military is an unstoppable bloodthirsty murderer who just wants to kill everybody else around them.

Re:Saving lives (4, Funny)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095630)

either you have a poorly developed sense of dry humor, or it's -so- well developed that I'm incapable of noticing it in your post.

Let me cut directly to it, are you by any chance British?

Re:Saving lives (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096272)

I had a professor when I was and undergrad flat out tell the class she was lecturing that everyone who volunteered for the US military did so to kill and everyone in the military was a killer.

In her mind and world view if you are in a military you murder people.

Re:Saving lives (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096562)

"We could eliminate 100% of American troop casualties if we just kill everybody else in the world.

Isn't there something like this in that movie "Borat".

Re:Saving lives (3, Interesting)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094862)

Anybody ever find that phrase ironic when applied to the military?

Granted, this isn't directly like some of the more egregious examples. Usually, "saving lives" involves killing more of "them".

I know you're being facetious, but the idea of "saving lives" in this case is like the phrase "a penny saved is a penny earned." They're not actually saving lives, so much as not spending them. Yes, I find it ironic.

I had a roommate in college who was studying Mechanical Engineering, interned with, and was later hired at, a company that designed and made light weapons (pistols, rifles, etc.). He justified it as saving American lives.

Re:Saving lives (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095364)

"I had a roommate in college who was studying Mechanical Engineering, interned with, and was later hired at, a company that designed and made light weapons (pistols, rifles, etc.). He justified it as saving American lives."

Why should he have had to justify himself to you? Let me let you in on a little secret about human nature: people always have used and always will use violence against one another to get what they want / need. If they didn't have guns they'd go back to using spears and rocks.

You: "Kumbayah my Lord, Kumbayah..."

Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094900)

Tents with air conditioners?

 

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094990)

Go to these places and see how long you last without AC. The real WTF, is why they are taking so long to build more permanent structures, or leaving. This in the middle BS is costing us a fortune.

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096002)

Go to these places and see how long you last without AC. The real WTF, is why they are taking so long to build more permanent structures, or leaving. This in the middle BS is costing us a fortune.

Really. For all of the 'tent money' they've spent, they could have dug in, literally, with buried structures that would be safer, cheaper and very useful for the enemy once we pull out.

Oh, wait. (Actually even permanent emplacements that were used by enemy forces once we've moved out could be quite valuable for us. Nothing like knowing exactly what to expect and where the literal back doors are).

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (2, Informative)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096134)

I grew up in Oman [wikipedia.org] , you insensitive clod.

Seriously though, you can survive in very hot places without AC, you just can't _do_ all that much. At over about 40 degrees in the shade, your body expends most of its energy trying to get cool. AC just allows you to function fully all day long, it's not technically necessary (at least if not fighting a war). It hit 50 degrees in the shade a couple of times when I was there.

That being said, I (obviously) wasn't living in temporary structures over there, like tents.... most of my homes had AC (most of the time), and all proper buildings retained a little of the night cool to lower the high mid-day temperatures. The thicker the walls, the better they did it - some places with massive walls, without AC, remained at absolutely fine temperatures throughout the day.

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

crashandburn66 (1290292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095026)

Have you ever been in a tent that's been out in the sun for a few hours? Even if it's nice and cool outside, say 75* F, it'll easily push 100* F inside. Now imagine how hot the tent would get if it were 120* F outside.

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095220)

Fahrenheit again? Metricate your shit, America!

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095290)

Never!

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095502)

We'll just invade their country and force them to switch to Imperial units!

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095322)

Here, let me help:

"Even if it's nice and cool outside, it'll easily push 'really hot' inside. Now imagine how hot the tent would get if it were 'hot as balls' outside."

Better?

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095440)

How hot are balls, though? Because testicles are usually cooler than the rest of the body. Pretty much the entire reason they're dangling out there away from the body instead of better protected.

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095062)

120 degree F . . . all day every day is normal

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

JasperHW (710218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095080)

They're not your typical coleman tents. Think canvas, and large enough to hold multiple people + workstations + table space. And like the other replies said, you'd cook otherwise..

Re:Anybody else thought WTF yet? (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095376)

Yeah Colin, like from these guys: http://www.alaskastructures.com/ [alaskastructures.com]

Re:Saving lives (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095010)

Anybody ever find that phrase ironic when applied to the military?

No, not at all.

Re:Saving lives (3, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095192)

Yeah I know, it's not like the United States ever takes whole carrier groups and parks them off of impoverished third world nations that have just endured a hurricane or an earthquake. Doctors from all branches certainly haven't slaved over nearly innumerable numbers of battered and wounded refugees supported by an immense web of logistics paid for by the American taxpayer with no questions asked. Supplies are never airlifted nor delivered by sea to airfields and ports secured by US servicemen. Yeah, what fucking irony, you ignorant and blind ideologue shitheads.

(Here the epithet "shitheads" is applied as much or more to the replies of this thread than the parent.)

Re:Saving lives (2, Insightful)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095362)

"No questions asked"? I dunno about that. While I appreciate your point, I suggest those humanitarian efforts serve America's interests, just as the military action in Afghanistan and Iraq are proposed to do. America is many things, but "Altruistic" isn't on the list - at least at the Geo-Political level.

Re:Saving lives (3, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095444)

Yeah, and the ambulance company sends you a bill too, does that mean you spit in the EMT's eyes? Whether somebody's life is saved by 'pure altruism' or some geopolitical machination is immaterial to the fact that the person's life was saved, and some people had to work damn hard to do it, regardless of whether they were paid or that was 'just their job,' that doesn't negate that hard work was done to save lives.

I reiterate: shitheads.

Re:Saving lives (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096502)

To be fair, it's trading perhaps 10 lives for a 100 or so. That's the idea anyway, how and if it works out in practice is generally voodoo bullshit (e.g. Operation Iraqi Killing Fiel...er, "Freedom").

By which I mean, it's just bullshit.

Re:Saving lives (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096522)

I mean saving 100 lives via the death of 10, but like I said that's typically bullshit.

Re:Saving lives (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096534)

Anybody ever find that phrase ironic when applied to the military?

Granted, this isn't directly like some of the more egregious examples. Usually, "saving lives" involves killing more of "them".

Exactly what I was going to say! That's just so nice and cute, an ecological, energy-efficient, responsible, life-saving... global military-corporate empire! Marketing bluffs can create the most amazing bluffing baloney...

Those people can't see the forest for the trees! (1, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094740)

They put their minds to it and try to figure out how to save lives and this is what they come up with?

How about bombing and shooting less people!!!?!!

Re:Those people can't see the forest for the trees (3, Insightful)

cavePrisoner (1184997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095092)

This is a basic confusion of who makes decisions. Troops go to war because the President/Congress/The People tell them to. If you have a beef with them, this is a democracy. Vote. Don't take it out on the Pentagon for trying to protect its troops.

Besides, if you think about it, this strategy removes targets from the battlefield. Fewer targets mean fewer attacks. Fewer attacks mean less dead on both sides. In Vietnam (remember John Kerry?), they used swift boats intentionally as targets to draw the enemy into fighting to make the death counts higher. This time they're doing the opposite. Shouldn't that be a good thing?

Re:Those people can't see the forest for the trees (1, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096066)

Bullshit! The people voted for change, and they got yet another Bush. Obama has continued the elite's agenda of war. Renaming troop's activities doesn't change that the (pointless, for profit, for political coin) wars go on and on and on.

we don't have democracy, we have oligarchy and plutocracy.

Re:Those people can't see the forest for the trees (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096350)

cleaning up someone else's mess doesn't mean you like to do it.

Obama is doing the responsible thing. Cleaning up the geopolitical mess that bush created without thinking things through. It is one of the few things I agree with. Because the moment we leave Afghanistan the Taliban take back over and Bin Laden comes out of his cave again. They are far to strong still. However since the American public thought it would be a quickie kill them off and leave, and let the mess sort it self out like what we did in the 1980's with the Soviet occupation, This time we are sticking around. Hopefully for the next 20-30 years. that way a whole generation grows up not hating the USA but at least thinking mostly nice things about us.

Re:Those people can't see the forest for the trees (3, Insightful)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096296)

Troops go to war because the President/Congress/The People tell them to.

No. Troops go to war because they decide to... they are not automatons. Every single one of those troops has gone to war decided that going to war is the best option for them. You should not surrender your integrity when you enter the service.

That being said, I think _most_ of them made the correct choice, since they have been put in difficult positions. Some may feel the war is just, some may not. For the latter, the negatives against following orders have not been large enough. More responsibility lies with those who decided upon the war, but some still rests with those who carried it out. "I was just following orders" is not an excuse.

$400/gal adds up fast (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094744)

When the cost of safely delivering gasoline in-theatre is $400/gal [thehill.com] , any non-trivial reduction in fuel consumption will result in a serious cost savings for the military. I'm all for this.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (4, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094800)

Just imagine the serious cost savings that might come from quitting the damn wars.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094956)

Just imagine the serious cost savings that might come from quitting the damn wars.

And just imagine how much money we could save if kitten shit were made of 24-karat gold, and puppies pissed the finest single-malt scotch known to mankind!

The difference is, my fairy tale is more likely to come true than your fairy tale. Wars aren't going to go away because we throw down our weapons and say "We're just not going to fight anymore, let's all just sit around and sing Kumbaya instead, and talk out our feelings."

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (4, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095332)

He said, "...[quit] the damn wars."

He didn't say, "Fire all police, get rid of the FBI, CIA, and NSA, disband the army, navy, marines, and airforce."

The former is quite sensible. Iraq and Afghanistan can't be won the way, say, WW2 was. There's no one in charge to surrender and no standing army to be told to lay down arms. Rather than bitching about people supposedly wanting the US to lose, they could see reality for what it is and cut their loses before they waste more lives and more money for absolutely nothing.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095438)

So the best way to avoid conflict is to wait until one side completely subjugated its own people into forming a large, traditional style military force before attacking foreign countries? Isn't that exactly how WW2 started in the first place?

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096230)

So the best way to avoid conflict is to wait until one side completely subjugated its own people into forming a large, traditional style military force before attacking foreign countries? Isn't that exactly how WW2 started in the first place?

Yes, that would make more sense, because then it is possible to win the war, if there is a single leader to concede defeat. Even quite quickly, as Iraq '91 showed.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096396)

"Iraq and Afghanistan can't be won the way, say, WW2 was."

That's why they aren't being fought like WW2 was. Or even Vietnam or Desert Storm for that matter. Hell, even top military planners acknowledge that in the current strategy, counterinsurgency, the military aspect is only a small part of much larger effort. The media tends to focus on the military aspect and service members might make up the bulk of the personnel involved, but that doesn't mean that military operations make up the bulk of the operations.

Take the time to read a book on the rise of the Taliban some time ("Taliban" by Ahmed Rashid is a fantastic example). They rose to power precisely because all the world powers chose to ignore Central Asia. The nature of the Taliban regime is one such that their support for terrorism was and is a foregone conclusion. Do you think that if the US left Afghanistan today that the Taliban wouldn't just reassume power? Do you think that they wouldn't continue to support terrorists once they did reassume power? Do you think we wouldn't just end up back there another 10 years from now saying, "How'd we end up back here again?"

Violence in Iraq has dropped to levels not seen since OIF I and is continuing to drop. For context, the level of violence is actually lower than the Second Intifada was in Israel. The counterinsurgency strategy proved itself in Iraq and its already started to show success in Afghanistan. We need to see this through now, so that don't find ourselves back there in another decade wondering why we're spending soldiers' lives to do a job that should have been done right the first time. ...and before anyone dares to accuse me of being frivolous with lives, I'll add this: I'm an American soldier, serving as a combat engineer (the guys who go out and find IEDs the hard way), and I believe absolutely in our mission and means of achieving it in Afghanistan. Regardless of what our ulterior motives may be, we are helping people over there and doing the right thing.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (2, Insightful)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094962)

Sadly, "imagining" is the only option. But hey, Mission Accomplished, right?

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (4, Funny)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095056)

Didn't you hear? Obama officially ended combat operations! Our troops who are still fighting over there are just, uh, hanging out or something.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (2, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095230)

I'm not - war should be expensive, both in lives & financial sense, preferably for all parties involved.

Countries should avoid going into a war at all costs. Even it improves things on your side of the war, that might mean the same investment (in money & lives) on your side translates into more casualties on the other side. While you may think of that as improvement, it also makes it easier to stamp out an enemy that has every right to be fighting you, or makes it easier to get into a war you shouldn't be getting into. So when there's a development that makes it easier/cheaper to run a war, I don't necessarily see that as a good thing.

Re:$400/gal adds up fast (4, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095412)

Countries should avoid going into a war at all costs.

No, countries should understand and be very clear on the principles they consider non-negotiable, that they are willing to fight and die for. Avoiding war 'at all costs' means you might as well just roll over and let the closest despot with a gun take over.

And if it's a democracy, the citizens should educate themselves and stop voting for people who send young men and women to fight and die in engagements that do not match up with the principles that country has decided are worth fighting and dying for.

There's always something worth fighting, and even dying for, if necessary. If the only determining factor in whether or not you go to war is "how much will it cost?" then you have serious moral and ethical problems endemic to your government, and by extension, endemic to your citizenry.

If it's a case where my country has said, "X is worth fighting and dying for," then I want "X" to be achieved at the lowest cost possible - in terms of economics, in terms of lives of my fellow citizens, and in terms of lives of the civilians on the other side, with the business end of the gun pointed at them.

Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094756)

Foaming the tents saves the military $2 million a day in avoided energy costs.

If it's a semi-permanent base, couldn't they also have invested in earth-covered buildings? Covered with a yard or so of earth they might also provide a better defense against small arms fire and shrapnel.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094820)

halliburton said the foam was better than the dirt.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094892)

And offered it at the bargain price of only $4000/pound.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095394)

Where are you going to get the earth? The foam and application equipment can be used even on small fire bases that can only be resupplied by air. You can ship a bulldozer by air, but it will have to leave to base to go dig up dirt. Big target. If the ground is soft enough to dig up easily, do you think the local who owns the land will be happy about it? The foam can be applied quickly and eaisly to already existing structures in all environments.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095586)

Any armored fighting vehicle can be fitted with a backhoe attachment, and some are. They are used to fill Hesco bastion to protect those fire bases, and Hesco is easy to use.

The ubiquitous ISO shipping container could be dug in and left in place, then covered with earth defined by Hesco. The tents etc often arrive in ISO containers anyway.

Renting ISOs and shipping them back out of theater is a waste of money. Vanilla ISOs fill US ports (a result of the trade imbalance) and are cheap (individual units under two grand if you buy them for private use). Send them one-way, revet them, and use spray foam on the outside to prevent internal condensation.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096482)

But the whole problem is logistics - hauling stuff in a combat zone is hard.

When packed, a small 13x13ft tent takes up a space around 5 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft and weighs around 400 lbs.

You can fit around 50 of them in a single 20' container, and each tent will provide more square footage than than 20' container. You say that the containers can be buried, but are they safety rated for burial, and can they withstand corrosion after a year or more of burial in wet ground?

So if you need lots of space fast, bringing in one container full of tents sounds a lot easier than 50 empty containers. And you don't need to bring in any heavy equipment to dig 50 holes.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096772)

You need shelter for troops long you worry about heating/cooling and long before you worry about insulation. The tents will always be there before there is any time to give thought to insulating them. More complicated solutions will work when expanding pre-existing bases with a long time to plan and prepare. The foam will work on any base of any size in any theater- That is the big advantage.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095400)

If fuel is so difficult to deliver there, then I'm not sure that bringing in 2000 lbs of wood and other materials to build an underground shelter is going to be cheaper than a 200 pound tent even if it saves some energy costs. Plus there's the added difficulty of trucking in a 20 ton excavator to dig the holes in the first place. Plus, not all soils are conducive to building below grade structures, some sandy soils make it quite difficult to do.

For more permanent bases, I believe they just build conventional hard sided above ground structures.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095434)

But that would send the message to that we were going to be there a while, and we don't want to make them feel like we're invading their country permanently...oops too late.

Re:Foam the tents? There's another solution... (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095516)

Not many tents stand up very well under a yard of earth.

Classic misunderstanding of statistics (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094762)

A classic misunderstanding of statistics. Lets see how this works.

Lets assume we have 100 future martyrs loaded up and ready to blow.
Send 500 convoys. Lets say 90 get blown up by the 100 martyrs.

Ivory tower metrics MBA says, lets cut back so we only send 250 convoys. Since a bit under a fifth of convoys are blown up, that means by definition only about 40 convoys will get blown up.

Send 250 convoys. 90 get blown up by the 100 martyrs. Maybe due to doubled security, VERY optimistically twice as many fail, so best case only 80 convoys get blown up by the 100 martyrs.

Ivory tower metrics MBA gets confused that losses are 100% higher than expected.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094912)

I've got to say, you seem to be the one missing the point. Nowhere in the article does this say it will "eliminate" casualties, or "stop them from bombing our convoys."

By your own math, 10 convoys that would have been blown up didn't get blown up. That equals less casualties. As cited in the article, fewer convoys means less traffic, less congestion, less chance of traffic accidents - costing lives, equipment, and fuel - again, less casualties.

All in all, this is an incremental improvement that translates to saved lives & money. Nobody in the article is claiming that it's going to reduce casualties to zero.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095030)

Lots of maybe / optimistically in my post. Don't forget that from the "other guys" point of view, fewer targets equals increased value of intel data, able to focus your human intel assets more closely, more rifles on target... If you can pull off the perfect attack because you now have twice the time to set it up, maybe doubling the defenders security forces just means you buy twice as many body bags. Its not clear.

There are two other issues with my numbers.

1) Odds of death for the convoy guys just went from 1 in 5 to about 1 in 3. Making everyone jumpy. Jumpy = dangerous to both civilians and themselves.

2) Loss rate in personnel and logistics went from 1 in 5 (probably survivable) to 1 in 3 (time to retreat!). Actual numbers probably won't cross that threshold (probably?) but lower quantities always means individual losses are will be more acute. Maybe before, a loss meant the stryker guys had to go slow and idle less for a few days. Now a loss might mean they park it. And a parked APC/AFV is just a target. Secondary losses like this might be very expensive yet not immediately obvious.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095172)

And let's not forget that, given the constraints of the number of soldiers in theater, half the number of fuel convoys to guard means twice as many combat patrols out in the field looking for the guys who are planting the IEDs that are blowing up the convoys.

A couple combat patrols can move a hell of a lot faster and pack a hell of a lot more firepower for their size than fuel & supply convoys can, as well, which also has the benefit of helping move the task from "preventing them from blowing up *this* particular convoy" to "watching closely and preventing them from lining the highways with IEDs in the first place."

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096012)

half the number of fuel convoys to guard means twice as many combat patrols out in the field

Do you live in a world where the number of convoys equals the number of patrols?

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094964)

Convoy kills aren't done by martyrs (generally). Convoys are attacked opportunistically with IEDs. Guess what happens when you reduce the opportunities for opportunistic kills?

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095248)

Convoy kills aren't done by martyrs (generally). Convoys are attacked opportunistically with IEDs. Guess what happens when you reduce the opportunities for opportunistic kills?

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that providing twice the time between convoys to plant IEDs would result in twice the booms and half the number of trucks to adsorb the booms.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096318)

They still patrol the supply routes with UAVs, manned aviation and ground patrols, so reducing the number of supply runs will allow them to make supply runs a little more random and give more time to spot IEDs and take them out.

Classic making of assumptions (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095050)

You are also making assumptions (that the number of martyrs is fixed).

Alternatively, it could be the case that every single convoy is attacked, and on average 20% of the trucks are destroyed. In that scenario, cutting the number of convoys in half will generally reduce the number of casualties by the same amount.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095088)

Look at it a different way, without flat statistics. Convoys which posess fuel are attractive targets for two reasons:

1) Fuel is valuable to the military because they need it to realistically operate.
2) Fuel makes a nice explosion and fireball, causing collateral damage.

So, they've shown that by using this tech, they need less fuel supplies to properly operate a base of operations. That means convoys can be sent out without fuel trucks, or with less fuel trucks. This decreases the value of each individual convoy, and also will lower the amount of collateral damage. Ergo, lives are saved.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095110)

Lots of these loses are caused by military engagement, not suicide bomber. And, convoys are targets of opportunity. You can't decide "oh hey lets hit the scheduled convoy next week" because the schedule is randomized. And you can't say "lets ambush it here" because the route is, too. So if there are half as many of them, sure, it won't be a full half as many attacks, but it will be a lot less. Because with less out there, less will happen to pass close to enemy forces, and thus the enemy will be presented with less targets of opportunity. In other words, though it may shock you to your very core, sometimes occasionally people think about things at least as hard as dedicated Slashbots. Anyways, your work here is done, I'm sure there's another article coming up soon where you can point out the obvious mistakes that anybody with STREET SMARTS (tm) would catch, but all those elitists from Massachusetts clearly are too far up their own ass to ever consider.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095358)

So if there are half as many of them

Then each individual loss will have twice the logistical impact. Also, arguably, twice the terror impact on the folks in the flak jackets, which has all kinds of interesting effect from increased PTSD to increased civilian casualties (itchy trigger finger when terrified)

In other words, though it may shock you to your very core, sometimes occasionally people think about things at least as hard as dedicated Slashbots.

Yes the .mil folks think hard about winning at the .mil game. But this is a PR puff piece meant to amuse the foolish public while posing as all .mil. Outsmarting them is not all that much of an achievement. Especially when we're too smart to have been a target of their puff piece PR release anyway. It is still funny to point and laugh, at least a little.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095242)

A classic misunderstanding of statistics. Lets see how this works.

Lets assume we have 100 future martyrs loaded up and ready to blow. Send 500 convoys. Lets say 90 get blown up by the 100 martyrs.

Ivory tower metrics MBA says, lets cut back so we only send 250 convoys. Since a bit under a fifth of convoys are blown up, that means by definition only about 40 convoys will get blown up.

Send 250 convoys. 90 get blown up by the 100 martyrs. Maybe due to doubled security, VERY optimistically twice as many fail, so best case only 80 convoys get blown up by the 100 martyrs.

Ivory tower metrics MBA gets confused that losses are 100% higher than expected.

And this is an example of an arm chair "analyst" being overly impressed with a model he/she cooked up out of their under-stocked larder of domain knowledge.

Just maybe the U.S. Army keeps detailed statistics on the likelihood of casualties and material losses under field conditions, and knows for certain whether reducing convoy sizes actually drives up loss rates, and has solid evidence to back up expectations that this is a big win.

And just maybe the "all martyr combat model" is utter hokum.

Re:Classic misunderstanding of statistics (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095478)

You're forgetting about something. Those soldiers no longer involved with convoy duties can be used for other things. Say you send those truck drivers home, bring over more intel and infantry. Your 100 future martyrs get to sit around waiting for a new explosives expert to replace the one captured/killed by the additional combat troops.

Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34094778)

Why is it in almost every military related article posted here, it inevitably turns political?

I can already see the usual "we can save lives if we just had world peace and nobody fought wars" blabber about to come. And btw, there's no irony with saving lives while fighting wars.

Bottom line, lets stick to the technological and relevant aspects of this story, hippie dippie bullshit is just plainly offtopic and should be moderated as such.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (2, Informative)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094914)

Man, oh, man, are you going to be disappointed.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (4, Insightful)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094966)

Why is it in almost every military related article posted here, it inevitably turns political?

Because war and politics go hand in hand.

Funny how the "hippie dippies" are aware of this and it completely sails over your head.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (2, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095166)

Why is it in almost every military related article posted here, it inevitably turns political?

Because war and politics go hand in hand.

Funny how the "hippie dippies" are aware of this and it completely sails over your head.

Discussion of technology used in a war situation does NOT always go hand in hand with politics, and this topic is about foam on tents. There's no politics involved, no contractors out of control, no politicians making claims, not even a weapons system; just foam on the tents. The problem is that hippie dippies are unable to discuss military operations without ranting about politics. Only someone with a gratuitous axe to grind links foam on tents to the horror, the horror, the horror...

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (0, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095980)

no, this is about *the U.S. military* putting foam on tents and claiming it will save lives.

A military that is a tool of power and money grubbing elite who are fighting needless wars of choice, mass murdering and maiming innocents to line pockets and get political coin.

All the while spewing the lie that it is fighting terrorism, spreading democracy, making us safer.

And don't give me any bullshit about 9/11, that's not what either Iraq nor Afghanistan fighting is about.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (2, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094994)

If being a hippie means surviving and also not burying my loved ones, then count me in, man.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096324)

I'm just trying to figure out why people get the label "hippie" when they complain about war for profit, power and political coin.

I'm not a peacenik, hell, I love weapons. I own weapons. I love a righteous war (like WW II) and I love to see evil scum get blown up, shot up, burned up. yeah, come get some!!

BUT,

I get the label "unpatriotic" "hippie" "traitor" when I complain about these bullshit pseudo-wars that the U.S. is inflicting on innocents, to line defense contractors and construction contractors pockets, and to have a rallying point for politicians who have failed to do their most basic of duties, and to provide an excuse for power-mongers to deprive us of liberties and build a police state.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096768)

Thank God there aren't more people like you, otherwise we'd all be speaking German today.

owned.

they can't even pass the first test successfully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095022)

What part of THOU SHALT NOT did you nimcompoops not understand?!!!!

killing people is antisocial behavior in any context.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095076)

Because everybody has a driving need to feel really clever and witty, and writing "IMAGINE IF WE ENDED THE WARS!" makes them feel that way. It's completely obvious and predictable, but it's also easy karma on Slashdot.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (2, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095428)

Why is it in almost every military related article posted here, it inevitably turns political?

Because the military is being used for political ends that have nothing to do with the safety of this country, and everything to do with the safety of defense contractor profits.

When they stop playing politics with defense, I'll stop complaining about it.

Re:Please Leave the Politics Out Of This (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096360)

Because the military is political. "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means."

Life imitates The Onion (4, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094780)

Re:Life imitates The Onion (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095214)

Hipster Hitler [hipsterhitler.com] approves your eco-friendly genocide.

So, the military budget can be cut? (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094860)

Oh wait, no, course not.

Re:So, the military budget can be cut? (1)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096676)

It's actually rather remarkable: $2 million per day adds up to over $700 million per year, from something as simple as foam insulation. I wonder how many other ways they could save similar amounts of money through equally easy means, if only they weren't given a blank check and felt a little more pressure to cut costs? Why did it take something as extreme as attacks on their supply convoys to make them stop wasting our money in this case? You know how the saying goes: a billion here, a billion there, and soon you're talking about real money.

Keep going ... (3, Insightful)

alexibu (1071218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34094918)

Then transfer the green ideas back to USA and the war itself may not be necessary.

Re:Keep going ... (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095396)

>Then transfer the green ideas back to USA and the war itself may not be necessary.

There's a smart idea ... with 0 hope of passage.

It's a strange game (1, Interesting)

surveyork (1505897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095064)

The best move is to not do war.

Why not the easy way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095146)

Save lives by roaming the battlefield.

Welcome to the New Earth Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095148)

Remember the New Earth Army solar cooker in The Men who Stare at Goats? This is doing the same, in a much bigger way.

Is it a "green" foam? (1)

sys_mast (452486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095160)

Green as in non CFC and similar...NOT green as in color, color being off topic.

Old idea better done elsewhere (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095186)

Mongolian Yurts are insulated and reusable and can be set up in hours. Funny that it took them so long to consider having to keep soldiers for extended periods under severe conditions. The military should check in with some of the existing Yurt building companies and see what it would cost to field test some. They should be roomier and as I say reusable. The traditional ones get set up and taken down several times a year and last for many years. The thick woolen insulation with a few layers of kelvar would probably be bullet and explosion resistant, the insulation provides the give needed to allow the kevlar to flex. It just seems like a better option than foaming tents then tossing them once you are done.

So stop using generators that need refueling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095324)

Generators consumed more of the fuel brought in than did combat vehicles and air support.

Start using nuclear-powered generators. Problem solved.

Mission Accomplished! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34095424)

I have read convincing speculation that the US invaded Iraq mainly for oil.

If energy security is the problem, then green technology is the only long-term solution. The US military just found a way to inject itself into the middle of the solution.

Apparently, they're helping! The Iraq war is artificially creating short-term, tangible consequences of oil dependence... so Mission Accomplished?!

Nukes nukes more nukes (1)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 3 years ago | (#34095982)

Here's a bizarre idea. Build a 10mw nuclear reactor that can be embedded underground and have concrete poured over it. Nuclear reactors of that size SHOULD be shippable by truck.

Then set it up. If the electrical power for these bases is largely coming from generators, to run the air conditioning and what not, by my rough guestimates this should save about 600 gallons of JP8 per hour. Even if such a reactor costs 50 million to build, and one gets blown up in transit over there, it saves $250,000 an hour. Which means it would pay for itself in about 10 days. Deploy these une masse to provide all of the electrical power you need to bases. Maybe ship in some excess reactors and use catalysts and hydrolysis to make artificial JP8.

Then, when you retreat from the war theater, leave it for the natives by hooking it up to their electrical grid. A small contribution, sure, but enough to power 10,000 homes.

Re:Nukes nukes more nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096200)

Great idea!

Except you'll have several mini-Chernobyl events when some idiot tries to blow up the reactors.

Thats great but (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34096120)

I find their justification for this to be incredibly deceptive; It ties together reactionary/feel good terms like
green energy, saving troops and saving money for the tax payer. Those are all good right? Any patriotic
American should be for that!

Yes, but this there are far more issues that could have a bigger impact than switching to Solar energy on the
battle field. How about moving away from the use of depleted uranium ammunition's which has made Iraq the most
radio active country on the planet? Causing deformations in children, cancer in both troops and civilians and will have
an impact on Iraq for thousands of years to come!

This article insults my intellect cause it proposes to put a bandage on a massive wound.

I dont know... Am I so cynical that I cant see something that is an honest effort? Its so hard not to be
jaded when your bombarded with propaganda and misdirection all the time.

Re:Thats great but (2, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34096722)

Yes, because no solution should be implemented unless it solves all problems, even if those problems are completely unrelated.

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