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Among the Costs of War: $20B In Air Conditioning

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

The Military 409

TechkNighT_1337 submitted one of the most well spun little news nuggets I've read in awhile: "The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion. That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia."

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Interesting. (4, Insightful)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596222)

Funny how being green and efficient is considered a weakness instead of a strength.

A gallon of fuel you dont need to use, is one you dont need to carry or convoy in.

Re:Interesting. (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596570)

"if it aint broke don't fix it"

you wouldn't believe how many times i have heard this when i was in the army. unlike civilian life where everything has a return on investment and everyone is trying justify projects because they save money overall, it's not done in the military. ask for more money and complain if you don't get it

Re:Interesting. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596818)

That is one of the worst sayings. If we followed it, all progress would stop.

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596996)

That is one of the worst sayings. If we followed it, all progress would stop.

Don't make me laugh. I can promise you that most ground breaking science data is processed on outdated machines with programs that have a 20 year old code base. Just ask anyone who works at an FFRDC.

Re:Interesting. (5, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596780)

This is the major reason why the military has been investing heavily in green tech. A gallon of diesel fuel at the front lines in Afghanistan costs the military something like $400 because it first needs to be shipped in-country, then trucked through hostile territory on roads, and sometimes lashed to a mule and packed in. Plus, supply convoys are ripe targets - casualties due to roadside bombs these days are comparable, if not higher, than actual combat. The military realized this a couple of years ago, looking at the single-walled canvas tents they are cooling with A/C run from diesel generators in a 110 F desert. Being one of the biggest users of, well, everything in this world, their economies of scale and opportunities for savings at home and in theater are huge. They have [energybulletin.net] been [npr.org] working [nytimes.com] on it [ieee.org] , but it's a huge infrastructure and logistical change to undertake. If anything, it should give us all pause to realize how big a job the rest of the world will have to change our own infrastructure and habits to become more efficient.

Re:Interesting. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596880)

We could use choppers to ferry stuff around, but it is much more expensive than sending out some guys in a jeep or hummer. Plus it looks like we are afraid of the Talibhan.

There was an interview with an army officer on the radio a month or two back where they asked why they try to defuse roadside bombs instead of just blowing them up from a safe distance. This was in the context of yet another bomb disposal expert being killed, on his last day of service no less.

The answer given was that by defusing the bomb they get intelligence about who is building them and where. If they can catch all the skilled bomb makers they can eliminate the threat.

That sort of thing is why it is so hard for us to win in a country like Afghanistan. Military might is not enough.

It's for hospitals ... move along now, okay ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596940)

Okay ... well since the major use of US military airconditioning in Iraq is for hospitals (which is also partly why it's so ridiculously expensive : these systems are extra-reliable, which commands a large premium) ... a detail "curiously" omitted from this little tidbit of anti-military propaganda ...

Re:It's for hospitals ... move along now, okay ? (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597012)

...said the AC with no citation.

Re:Interesting. (1)

thesh0ck (1983948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597046)

Its funny how for years before this the govt complained of not having any money for anything for its own people yet when it comes time for war trillions of dollars magically appear.

Skeptical (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596244)

I'd like a second source for that number

Re:Skeptical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596416)

Me too, considering total costs for Afghanistan and Iraq for 2010 was something like $200mil, I don't know that I find it credible that the military was spending 10% of it's budget on AC. If I had to guess, they're pulling something like the total spent on AC by the military, not just in Iraq/Afghanistan.

Independence Day had it right... (3, Insightful)

drachenfyre (550754) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596252)

You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

Re:Independence Day had it right... (2)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596322)

No, but I do believe that air conditioning in the desert for all those troops would indeed cost this much.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596380)

Especially if the structures they're air conditioning are mobile and not well insulated.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596708)

Especially if the structures they're air conditioning are mobile and not well insulated.

Insulation is a fire hazard when your home is made up of fabric.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596800)

Not many of the structures get air conditioning at all. But they do bring server farms and whatnot with them that do come in air conditioned trailers. Now the Air Force on the other hand, well I hear they don't go anywhere without A/C ;)

Re:Independence Day had it right... (2)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597028)

Maybe they should be called the Air Conditioning Force.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (1)

x6060 (672364) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596494)

Wait, you think all of the troops get air conditioning? Its actually very few and far between.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (0)

gilbert644 (1515625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596350)

Except in reality the answer is no we spend 20$ on a hammer and 19,980.00 $ on war profiteers.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596608)

I know folks bitch about the costs, but where are those funds going would be the question to ask. I have no problem with the Govt spending on equipment and services that support U.S. businesses and create jobs. It's a bit of a vicious circle though. Shift that money to social services, and you'll have the same scenario, but just a different industry.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596912)

And then a big chunk of that money goes to the executives of those companies, who then spend a big chunk of it on Italian yachts and supercars, Panamanian hookers and Colombian cocaine. And then all the lower-paid workers spend a big chunk of their share on Chinese junk from Wal-Mart (or the Apple store) and American cars built in Mexico and partly paid for with bailout money, and the cycle continues...

Re:Independence Day had it right... (4, Insightful)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597024)

Money spent in a war is mostly wasted as the bulk of the money is invested into something with zero return. A small percentage trickles back in to the private sector via private sector purchases and services, but the bulk of the money is paying men/women to stand around shooting at people or blowing things up.

If you instead dumped that money into social services, even if largely abused, it would at least be invested directly back into the economy and we would retain nearly all of that money in some form.

When in college a few years back, the current estimated cost of 3 year of war would have paid for 10 years of nation wide free college AND health care. It's insane. Could you imagine a more educated and healthy populace? GDP would skyrocket after a few generations. Instead we're off fighting religious wars.

Nothing against our proud men and women serving abroad, just something against our government.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596426)

You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

Throw enough CMMI at the hammer or toilet seat, and yes I do think it cost that much.

Re:Independence Day had it right... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596878)

If those are space-hammers and space-toilets, then yes... I do think they do.

Détente? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596260)

I heard that the Cold War was over!

Irrelevant (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596264)

So what if A/C costs more than all those other things? What fucking relevance is that to the price of tea in China?

The bottom line is that in fighting wars in hot environments, A/C is crucial for keeping up comfort and morale and hence keeps America's fighting power up. Or would you also suggest we give up smart bombs and rifles and go back to sticks and stones?

This story is just trollbait.

Re:Irrelevant (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596332)

And honestly causes problems.

The enemy is not lounging in AC comfort, they are used to the heat and can operate in it at peak efficiency.. Our troops are not acclimated to the environment and therefore are operating at less than 100% It's a small drawback but in wars even 1% can make a huge difference.

Ac does not make them better at killing the enemy. AC actually makes them less effective at killing the enemy. Anyone that claims they can exit a 80 degree low humidity environment and enter a 110 degree environment and are AS EFFECTIVE as they were in the 80 degree environment is a flat out liar.

Re:Irrelevant (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596432)

Ac does not make them better at killing the enemy. AC actually makes them less effective at killing the enemy. Anyone that claims they can exit a 80 degree low humidity environment and enter a 110 degree environment and are AS EFFECTIVE as they were in the 80 degree environment is a flat out liar.

Or a Masai Warrior

Re:Irrelevant (0)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596592)

you are wrong

to operate in the hot environment you always have to consume water or die. if you are hot and sweating then you lose water. you can live without AC for a little, but you can't live without water. and bringing potable water to the outposts is just as challenging

Re:Irrelevant (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596898)

"you can live without AC for a little, but you can't live without water."

So AC has existed forever? are you really that stupid? You can live without AC FOREVER... Simply go and ask the poor, or any of the tribes in south america or any of the people living in the desert...

and I dont see anyone saying that our troops are being denied water. Are you just making crap up?

Lumpy is 100% correct. the enemy is fighting without AC and is not having problems just up and dying without it (they die when we send them ordinance at high velocity.)... SO you are saying that American soldiers are limply little girls that REQUIRE AC?

I dare you to say that at a army base.

Re:Irrelevant (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597032)

You can live without AC FOREVER..

Sir, I would like to receive your pamphlet. Is there some sort of ritual I will need to perform?

Necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596270)

Air conditioning in that environment is essential. Any of the communication and data providing equipment must be environmentally protected and kept cool. The most valuable asset to the military is its personnel and it's freakin hot over there, I know! Try having duty on night shift and sleeping in a dark green tent or even in a converted container without A/C sometime and see how you hold up...

It's the cost of doing the business that we are doing over there. If that's too much $$, bring the troops home.

Re:Necessary (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596302)

Acknowledged that it is the cost of doing business.

It is too much $$, the United States is not here to spread democracy among those assholes.

Here is my pullout plan:

1. Pack everyone and everything up
2. Leave.

Re:Necessary (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596508)

Here is my pullout plan:

1. Pack everyone and everything up
2. Leave.

I think it's quite clear that we are in too deep to just pack up and go. Im sure if we pull out the current standing regime will raise hell on the civilians "just because." In addition, it might give those leaders the balls to try something on our home soil again.

20 Billion sounds like a bunch of money, but if it makes the lives of those fighting men and women any easier i say let em have it. I dont agree with this war, but I sure as hell respect the men and women who are doing their best to serve this country.

Re:Necessary (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596828)

"I sure as hell respect the men and women who are doing their best to get their paycheck."

FTFY.

Re:Necessary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596830)

"20 Billion sounds like a bunch of money, but if it makes the lives of those fighting men and women any easier i say let em have it. I dont agree with this war, but I sure as hell respect the men and women who are doing their best to serve this country."

I think the most respectful thing that we could do to help the men and women serving their country is not to send them off on unjustified wars for dubious reasons. They should be put in harm's way only for GOOD REASONS. Yes, they should get the resources that they need when we ask them to fight, but we -- the voting public -- are on the hook for the decisions that send them there, and we and the political leaders representing us have not been doing our job properly.

Questioning the vast resources that are thrown after bad strategic decisions is not disrespectful of military personnel. It is a reminder of just how bad the original decision was: no realistic estimate of cost, no realistic estimate of duration, no realistic estimate of what the response of the host people would be, no realistic planning of what to do after "winning", no strategic sense to it at all, just fairy-tale expectations that it would be comparatively easy to reach a faux "Mission Accomplished" goalpost. We've learned a very hard lesson, paid for in the price of those soldiers that have died.

Re:Necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596854)

3. Nuke everyone till all parties are dead.
4. Apologize to the world for the slight computer glitch that caused the unvoluntary bombing.
5. Pay the russians to mount a "rescue mission" for the survivors of the fallout.

Re:Necessary (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596396)

Sorry - your military-grade communication and data equipment can't handle a temperature range inside a tent and has to be specially protected? Then it should have its own built-in ruggedisation and cooling.

Seriously, you think that soldiers should have air-conditioned rooms except possibly in a hospital? Unless the locals all have A/C and unless you're NOT siting your camps properly, I find that tricky to believe.

As a comparison - I'd be interested to know how much, say, a foreign military that's helping the US over there, but originally from a colder country (say the UK) is spending on A/C over there. I'd be seriously disappointed if it was rounded down in millions and came to greater than zero.

Re:Necessary (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596936)

Exactly, the guy does not know anything at all about data or comms gear. Even corporate Cisco switches and routers will operate at 160 degrees for a very very long time. I have a set that MELTED the rj45 jacks and it was still running, the temperatures sensors in the closet during the fire were off the scale (Above 255 degrees) for 6 hours during the fire until they cut the power. Military grade stuff can do this in the direct sun while being shot at and peed on.

Cooling canvas tents? (2)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596292)

How are these tents built up? Is this just a canvas tent, no insulation whatever?

That would be rather ... stupid. It should be quite simple to construct something portable with at least a modicum of insulation.

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596318)

RTFA

the tents are insulated with foam

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (3, Informative)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596354)

Yes, thats the point. Thats why they now spray foam on them. Going from none to foam reduces energy use by 92%.

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596386)

They are better than that. Tents typically are covered with the "space blankets" and then covered with another tent. to cover the space blanket. it makes a MAJOR difference as the reflective mylar will reflect 90% of the heat back out.

Now expecting our military to have the brains to do that..... nope... the guys on the ground doing it themselves? yes, many of the grunts are far smarter than the officers.

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596484)

yes, many of the grunts are far smarter than the officers.

Doesn't say much.

Besides, the wino on your left is smarter than the grunts.

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596408)

That's pretty much it. In Kuwait (which isn't even mentioned) there's a tent city set up for Soldiers coming in and out of combat zones -- each of those tents has two A/C units, one of which is always on (the other being turned off only for refueling). The A/C IS necessary, though. Imagine stepping off the ramp of a transport jet into the hot jetwash... and the whole place being as hot and humid as said jetwash.

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596466)

The military wasn't really ready for the wars that we got in to, plain and simple. We were still equipped for cold war style traditional warefare that we thought that we were constantly preparing for, arming for, and training for... for some 50 years. A war in europe or the like against an eastern European front based military threat. We were not prepared for a sustained war in the desert heat against a guerilla warfare enemy. Our equipment, from electronics, weapons systems, and vehicles do not like the environment over there... nor do the troops. We used the tents and equipment that we had because we had that supply already, might as well use them and to order and potentially design new equipment would cost a lot of time and money as well. Supplies are limited and there isn't exactly a home improvement store around to pick up some lumber and insulation...

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (1)

denbesten (63853) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596472)

TFA makes it clear that they cut energy use by 92% through the use of polyurethane.

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (1)

kulnor (856639) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596842)

So we saved $184B! Nice!

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596968)

It should be quite simple to construct something portable with at least a modicum of insulation.

No, it isn't quite simple. It is very easy to construct permanent structures that are well insulated. Portable? No.

Let me know if you ever find a highly insulated car, RV, tank, train passenger car...

Most insulation either does not tolerate vibration, water, impact, is toxic when on fire, is toxic or semi-toxic to transport and apply by untrained personnel, or the lifetime under combat conditions is so short that disposal becomes an environmental problem (so... we poured out a slab of canned instant foam in the desert... how long till it biodegrades? I'm guessing the earths crust will subduct into the mantle before it degrades completely...)

Re:Cooling canvas tents? (1)

Sniper98G (1078397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597116)

The two most common tents in use are the "Alaska" and the "Base-X" both of witch are constructed of two layers of synthetic fabric separated by an air space. The air space is there just to increase the insulative value of the tents.

And that compared to the aid for Greece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596328)

Which is a mere 11 billion euro..

It's mostly officers... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596336)

Grunts and ground pounders tend to sleep in insulated tents. They all don't have AC units, only the officers and command centers do.

They, of course, need it to cool the computers down, but in reality, a lot of the grunts don't have AC, it's a privelege. It's only for the fat commanding officers who graduated from west point and haven't seen any combat.

Re:It's mostly officers... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596604)

This is not true. I was deployed to Iraq in 2005 - we had 4 ac units for a 10 man tent. All of our battalion had the same. We happened to be grunts and ground pounders. Our tent with E-3 to E-5's had zero additional insulation, and happened to have a series of shrapnel holes from a rocket that detonated 6 feet outside the front door.

The AC units struggled to run as they were constantly filled with fine silt. We power washed them every few weeks to keep them operational. The generators powering the tents ran constantly of course, but I would hope they ran on cheap local fuel.

Without knowing what all research went into creating this $20 B figure, it's hard to know how accurate it might be.

Coolgardie to the rescue? (1)

chomsky68 (1719996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596374)

Why all those aircon units which are running on fuel? A cheaper solution was invented in the outback: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolgardie_safe [wikipedia.org]

Re:Coolgardie to the rescue? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596690)

Why all those aircon units which are running on fuel? A cheaper solution was invented in the outback:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolgardie_safe [wikipedia.org]

The problem is transporting 10 gallons of water to evaporate is more expensive than transporting 1 gallon of diesel.

I suppose you could "recycle bodily fluids" if your drinkable water demands were more than 10 times higher than your AC diesel fuel demands, but no one wants to go there.

Solar Power? (3, Interesting)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596376)

From every photo I've seen of Afghanistan, it looks to me like they have a surplus of sunlight. I understand solar power can't replace fuel for everything, but couldn't it dramatically reduce the cost of cooling troops? What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

Re:Solar Power? (1)

janestarz (822635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596496)

From TFA:
"Why does it cost so much? To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than "improved goat trails," Anderson says."

Bringing in solar panels would reduce costs in the long run, but the transport investment would be the same or higher. I agree that there are greener ways to handle this. Personally, I think it's insane they provide air conditioning at all.

Re:Solar Power? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596502)

That's sounding suspiciously like socialist commie hippie environmentalist talk there, comrade. How much do YOU love your country? And which country is that?!?!?

Re:Solar Power? (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596528)

What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

Probably bureaucracy and lack of familiarity and/or comfort with the technology in question.

It take that military a long, long time to change things. They go through conceptual processes, design processes, review processes, redesign processes, certification processes, and that's for things that get developed quickly and that officers want. When officers don't want something or don't understand the nature of the technology, or when they don't think their enlistees can manage the tech, things go a lot slower.

This is partially why the military tends to look for variants on an existing theme. M4 versus M16. All of the versions of the M72. It's much easier to go with the same or with similar. Throwing in a whole new technology, at least as far as their usage, is not nearly as easy for training or simplicity.

Specifically for solar panels, keep in mind that they're fragile, and it wouldn't take much (oh, like a single bullet) to destroy a fairly sizable panel. It would be easy for an enemy, with a few well-placed shots from an iron-sights sniper rifle, to destroy all of the solar panels and thus to destroy all of the cooling. If they're trucking in fuel for things that can't solar-power anyway, it makes sense, to them, to continue to truck that much more fuel in for everything else that uses power.

I don't necessarily agree, and I think that with effort a certain degree of ruggedization of solar panels should be achievable, but right now they're not interested, and that'll be that.

Re:Solar Power? (4, Interesting)

Dails (1798748) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596766)

That's all true, but for as inefficient as it may seem, there are reasons for all of those. IAAAMO (I am an American military officer), and I can attest to the nature of the American military; we are an incredibly capable organization and almost unstoppable at the tasks we are equipped and trained for, but we were never designed to be agile or efficient. I'm a naval officer, so ships are what I know, and ships are damn expensive. Not just building, but designing, testing the designing, reworking requirements, testing requirements, adjusting for how much training would be required for the equipment vs how much we can do, ammunition and fuel consumption rates vs. supply capabilities, etc. The ships on the water now were on the drawing board twenty years ago (some of the tech in them is newer and could be installed on them because of the long dev time). We (the Navy) have fewer than 300 ships. Imagine an army of 300,000, each one with a set of gear. You want to change one piece, it's not one piece, it's 300,000 pieces. You want a new tent? It's not a new tent, it's 50,000 new tents. You can call it waste in government if you like (I know you didn't), but it's really just the nature of operating an enormous organization. You think lean, corporate giants where profit is king are different? They are not. Ask anyone who works at Raytheon, Microsoft, Apple, Maersk, etc.

Re:Solar Power? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596806)

Probably bureaucracy and lack of familiarity and/or comfort with the technology in question.

Also political. Its hard to build a stable reliable solar plant that is not permanent. Installing solar plants is an admission we will never leave. Which seems to pretty much be the truth, making it a good idea. But its hard to get people to admit that.

Specifically for solar panels, keep in mind that they're fragile, and it wouldn't take much (oh, like a single bullet) to destroy a fairly sizable panel. It would be easy for an enemy, with a few well-placed shots from an iron-sights sniper rifle, to destroy all of the solar panels and thus to destroy all of the cooling.

I can tell by your other commentary you are either in / involved with / or really close to someone in the US military, and this shows it too, in a different way, the high tech elaborate American style solution. The preferred anti-solar weapon is not an elaborately trained and experienced sniper with an expensive rifle, or even a drive-by clown with an AK, its simply an otherwise unarmed child carrying a simple rock. The guards aren't going to shoot a cuddly cute little kid for carrying a rock on national TV and newspaper front pages, are they? And as economic warfare, they'll win if we deploy $500 solar panels and they deploy ... rocks.

If they're trucking in fuel for things that can't solar-power anyway, it makes sense, to them, to continue to truck that much more fuel in for everything else that uses power.

That's the key... People who have never been to the sandbox always emphasize the heat, and forget that the nighttime temps drop to about the dew point, which is really freaking cold in a desert. So the mass media emphasizes the AC demands, /. reflects by writing about powering the AC with solar panels, and meanwhile the troops shiver all night and eat cold food and can't run their reverse osmosis water purifiers at night...

Re:Solar Power? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596682)

- Anderson says experiments with polyurethane foam insulation for tents in Iraq cut energy use by 92 percent and took 11,000 fuel trucks off the road. But he adds there's a lack of enthusiasm for a greener military among top commanders.

"People look at it and say 'It's not my lane. We don't need to tie the operational commanders' hands' — things like this," he says.

WTF? SO to hell with saving the money of the American taxpayer because some crusty-ass commander isn't comfortable with being green? I've worked in the solar field and they do have solar power augmented air conditioning units.Lastly,these aging Harvest Falcon tent cities are no more advanced than when I was a grunt back in the first gulf war. The military brass needs to pull their heads out and spray-foam every facility.

Re:Solar Power? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596838)

Moving any military equipment is going to be extremely heavy as it's often very hardened for many types of environments. Also, photovoltaics are extremely fragile, collect dust, and the lead acid batteries are heavy too. The only thing solar has going for it is that it's a readily available power source for part of the day. In remote places like Afghanistan where you want to setup sensors and relays, it could provide a strategic value where importing fuel would not.

Re:Solar Power? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597072)

What are the roadblocks and/or definciencies of alternative sources of power?

Lack of incentive. Do you really get the impression that the military here is strapped for cash?

Doesn't suprise me (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596410)

This doesn't surprise me. The tents or building the troops are in probably aren't all that well insulated and they are probably using window ACs as well. Add in breakage and the low efficiency of the setup and it seems to be a reasonable value. I am not saying this is a good thing, but given the waste in government it doesn't surprise me one bit.

Just the buildings (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596420)

Have they considered only air conditioning the building and vehicles rather than the whole countries? I assume that would be cheaper.

Re:Just the buildings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596832)

if the transport and everything costs that much, why don't they just build a nuclear powerplant?
that would give them energy and even have some left to sell.

Gotta love the Military! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596452)

I know war is hell and all, but shouldn't these guys be roughing it just a little? Most Afghans and Iraqis go without AC. To think we could have 2 NASA's going right now! Fuck!!!!!!!! fuck! fuck! fuck! fuck! fuck! Seriously, we cannot forgive George Bush.

Re:Gotta love the Military! (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596734)

"To think we could have 2 NASA's going right now! "

Very funny.
The annual NASA budget is less than the AC cooling fuel cost for_1_ year.

What do you think they are cooling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596454)

Well for all of you sitting in your AC cooled rooms right now. Maybe you aught to take a moment to think what they would need it for.. Equipment cooling is the biggest. There are several testing stations and radar equipment that require massive amounts of "chill" water. Water that is right above frozen for this equipment to work right. The same applies to aircraft carriers. The cooling is for electronics and such. Cooling sailors and marines secondary. Ask someone who has been here in a tech repair role.

Does anybody really believe this? (5, Informative)

nharmon (97591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596474)

...Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107 billion the Pentagon says it will spend in Afghanistan next year.

So of the $107 billion we will spend in Afghanistan, $20.2 billion of it is for air conditioning? Seriously, almost 20% of our war cost?

But the devil is in the details. The calculation takes into consideration all sorts of services that are not solely used for air conditioning. Escort, command and control, medevac support...all are resources that support multiple purposes and not just creature comforts for soldiers. That would be like me saying the annual cost of maintaining my vehicle includes the band-aids I keep in the medicine chest because I occasionally scrape my knuckles loosening the drain plug.

In other words, we do not spend $20 billion on air conditioning. Instead, the cost of every resource that has any tangential effect on air conditioning has a combined cost of $20 billion. Wake me up when NPR posts some information that is actually useful.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596526)

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107/yr to be pissed away into Afghanistan with no benefit for Americans not turning a profit from this war already.

Let's not forget the costs not factored into $107Billion/yr: life-long care for the thousands of crippled soldiers returning from this waste of time and effort.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596560)

Well, then look at the direct costs. How many gallons per hour do the generators and AC use? How many generators are in use. And how much does the average gallon of fuel cost to deliver.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596698)

I suspect the direct costs are not more than we spend on NASA, and thus not anti-war news worthy (thrown out there based on the big bold quote from Sen. Manchin).

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (2)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596918)

Really? Do the math, the numbers grow quite rapidly. Assuming very conservatively that a gallon of diesel costs $25 to deliver to an FOB (closer to $400/gal at times). Using an example number of 1000 gallons used per hour across all Afghanistan. That's $600,000 per day right there. $219 million a year.

Plug in actual consumption numbers and watch the costs soar.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596614)

Well, air-con isn't very energy efficient. So you're getting a shed-load of energy from somewhere. If you're talking entire camps hooked up, that's dozens KW's of capacity all day long, every day. A/C is actually quite a substantial chunk of any business's electrical cost that has it installed.

Now if you are indeed running mobile sites via fuel-based generators, that's a shed-load of inefficiency and cost again there. Ever run a petrol- or diesel-generator? Works out about 5-10 times more expensive than grid electric. Not to mention that if you're without it even for an hour, the A/C has to "warm-start" and pull a ton more energy than normal.

Now you're in a "hostile" country, you can't plug into the grid, and your fuel has to be DRIVEN in, using more fuel, in batches that will last you, say, a week at a time - it will form quite a significant chunk of your transport to move that much fuel around. Loading, movement, weight, unloading, fuelling, etc. That's a lot of work to cause, just for a liquid only intended to cool tents (and I imagine actual fuel costs for transport are a fraction of what would be used in A/C).

Add in losses, thefts, inefficiencies, the fact that fuel in those countries probably hasn't been bought at the local petrol station (but, ironically, comes from oil shipped from the Middle East to the US only to be refined and then shipped back again at great expense under military escort), that you're cooling a tent (the stupidest thing I ever heard), that the equipment use is probably unmonitored (so nobody is really aware if one unit is on all day, every day for no reason), etc. etc. and I can quite believe it.

Soon, this will become another one of those "and the Russians used a pencil" sayings - I bet every other military just has their soldiers adapt to the same conditions as the people they are fighting - cheaper, more sensible, more efficient and a lot greater sense.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596802)

I'll bet you think the Romans shouldn't have bothered building all those roads to follow their legions when they could have just dealt with the terrain like every other army.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596834)

"Works out about 5-10 times more expensive than grid electric."

Not to mention that using explosions to turn a generator to create electricity to generate the energy for again turning a pump in the AC unit wastes 3/4 of the energy.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596788)

The war in Afghanistan costs a hell of a lot more than $107 billion, maybe $107 billion this year, but it almost a 10 year old war. Secondly, the number given in the summary is aggregate over both Iraq and Afghanistan, not just for one year.

Re:Does anybody really believe this? (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596856)

The $20 billion is for Iraq and Afghanistan, not just Afghanistan. Those two wars are projected to cost $163 billion in 2011, which puts "air conditioning" costs at 12% of overall costs. But you are precisely right, the $20 billion spent per year on air conditioning is a perfect example of lying with statistics.

They don't use air conditioners... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596480)

...for most structures they use swamp coolers.

Re:They don't use air conditioners... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596634)

That would consume more water than gasoline

Remote the DVR's! (1)

rjlouro (651989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596514)

Well, according to yesterday's news [slashdot.org] , they could probably pay for the air conditioning if they stopped recording tv shows.

Calculation - could be possible (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596540)

Let's assume that a barrel of oil (equivalent) energy costs 1000 dollar - instead of the normal 100. The US army brings it to its destination in expensive convoys.
Let's also assume that the infrastructure costs as much as the energy: 2000 dollar/barrel of oil equivalent energy. (The result of both is probably more).

Then they would consume 10 million barrels of oil equivalent per year, or about 1.2 billion kg of oil, or about 5*10^16 J/yr, or about 1.6 GW in energy...

Which seems an awful lot.

Then again, we must realize that the US employs lots of people (not just their own soldiers), and probably provides housing for even more. Could it be possible that they house 1 million people: soldiers, supporting units, Blackwater, but also local forces, local police and all necessary bureaucracy? Then we're just talking about 1.6 kW of power per person... which seems not unreasonable. It's just the result of lots of people, and very expensive energy.

-- Just a back of the envelope calculation. If you arrive at the same order of magnitude, then we agree.

Re:Calculation - could be possible (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596638)

Let's assume neither of us are asses.

Interesting (5, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596552)

We spend more in cooling air than exploring outer space ... Well done, humanity ... /ironic

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596870)

no, make that well done America.

Re:Interesting (2)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597020)

yeah :(

Slashdot (-1, Redundant)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596554)

The place where you can find stories that were on CNN 2 days ago. Well done, editors. Why don't you post more stories about who "Liked" what on Facebook, too?

What a load of CRAP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596578)

20 billion on air conditioning... Only a fool would believe it... Just a liberal left reminder to hate the military..

It's the overhead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596596)

Their regulatory overhead is the reason a hammer costs $20,000. If they could just go to Home Depot and buy one and pay cash it'd be $29.95.

I deal with FNMA. It takes 90 to 120 days to get paid for anything you do. Know that the price they pay reflects this.

Solar panels, really? (4, Informative)

HBI (604924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596654)

Things are done like they are for a reason.

The tents are air conditioned with diesel-powered ECUs because people get heat related illnesses when they are not. They aren't kept at 68 degrees F - more like 80-85, but it's better than 105-130F outside. The ECUs also act as heaters in mountainous environments - Afghanistan, for one.

A TOC (command post) is a tent complex surrounded by concrete barriers and/or concertina wire. It's powered by generators. The wire and barriers are to stop potshots from firearms and to offer some protection against mortars/grenades/rockets. The wire isn't intended to harm, it mostly sticks to your skin and clothing and prevents you from going inside the post. The generators are used because they fit inside the perimeter.

Reflective blankets aren't used because the reflective blankets stick out like a sore thumb from the air, or the ground.

Insulation is not sprayed on the tents because they, you know, move...

Solar panels - envision putting a solar panel outside the perimeter. Envision carrying around solar panels and setting them up where you operate. Impractical from a logistical standpoint and could not be secured efficiently against attack without extending the perimeter to perhaps double or triple the circumference, with all the associated costs in additional manning for force protection. A nonstarter.

The same arguments apply to LSA - the places soldiers live - but with some modification. Some are fixed and might be amenable to alternative power sources, but the perimeter guard issue rears its head again. You can't beat generators for portability.

Re:Solar panels, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36597050)

How about using the insulated tents used at the south pole during the warmer months?

Don't believe it (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596702)

They're just trying to 'account' for stolen money [boston.com]

If you dig a little deeper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596774)

You'll find a lot of that bloat is actually a disguise for other projects. It will take about 25 years for it to be clarified, as is normally the case.

Money (1)

defective_warthog (776271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596852)

slashdot is _just_ now picking up this story!

These wars are being fought to keep people working which makes money for who? It's not about terrorism, it IS about MONEY.

Who makes those air conditioners? Who makes those generators? Who makes the bullets, mortar rounds, etc.? The US has what a million or so in uniform (who makes the uniforms?), it IS about the MONEY.

War is generally good for the economy but not so good for those being shot at on both sides.

How to have a good economic environment without killing each other has been and will continue to be an essential problem to solve.

disgusting (1)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | more than 3 years ago | (#36596910)

There is no argument that hold for this totally fake and wanted war system. After ten years what's new there? absolutely nothing. Same as when the russian were there. They are just burning citizens money and making the riches richer. If NASA or any other organization for serious scientific research would have half of the whole war budget in those countries now we would have amazing technologies unlocked and a surely a big amount of new discoveries in base research. All this just makes me sick... we could have permanent moon facilities..and a mars base...pump 100billion a year for 10 years... and it's sure.

Soldiers have it easy these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36596938)

My grandfather fought in the desert (North Africa, WWII) and my great grandfather fought in Palestine in WWI. Neither of them had Air Conditioning (and my gt grandfather had to save most of his water for his horse.)

And you are complaining, why? (0)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36597074)

Our soldiers are over there fighting for not just our freedom, but for the liberation of these people, in 120+ degree temperatures, in full gear, and we are complaining about the cost of air conditioning? Sounds like someone needs to sort out their priorities!

Slashdot should know better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36597084)

This isn't just cooling for service members. It's also cooling for communications equipment, server rooms, etc.

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