Better Dead Than Sissy
Declining fuel efficiency of military vehicles puts troops in harm’s way
In decades past, fuel comprised about 30 percent of the total supply tonnage moved to and fro on the battlefield. Today, according to a 2001 Defense Science Board study, that number may have risen as high as an astonishing 70 percent. America’s 150,000 soldiers in Iraq now consume roughly nine gallons of fuel apiece every day. Unfortunately, says study chair Richard Truly, the prevailing wisdom at the Pentagon is that “fuel efficiency is for sissies.” Tell that to the troops, who are stuck in a vicious cycle. The more “improvised explosive devices” — which have been responsible for roughly a third of U.S. casualties in Iraq — that explode under military vehicles, the more armor is plated onto them, and the worse fuel economy they get. The Bradley fighting vehicle gets less than two miles per gallon, the M1 Abrams tank less than one, and the Hummer … well, you know about the Hummer. More and more fuel must be shipped in from Kuwait, Turkey, and Jordan; those fuel convoys provide, you guessed it, more targets for the insurgents.