Ask Leo: The Guardian.
We are updated on a daily basis about the ever mounting human cost of the Iraq war, but even the US military is now starting to ask questions about how much oil the "war over oil" is consuming. Last year, Major General Richard Zilmer sent the Pentagon a "priority one" request from Iraq for "a self-sustainable energy solution" that would include "solar panels and wind turbines". The US military's carbon footprint was not his concern - rather, that "by reducing the need for [petrol] at our outlying bases, we can decrease the frequency of logistics convoys on the road, thereby reducing the danger to our marines, soldiers, and sailors".
Amory Lovins, the world-renowned energy consultant, agrees that the US military has a "fat fuel-logistics tail" and believes that this is a "very teachable moment for the military" on reducing its immense fossil fuel consumption.
And it is indeed immense: according to a report in Energy Bulletin earlier this year, the Pentagon is the single largest consumer of oil in the world. If the Pentagon was a country, it would be the 36th biggest consumer of oil. The US military officially uses 320,000 barrels of oil a day, but this total only includes "vehicle transport and facility maintenance". What about the 130,000 US contractors in Iraq rebuilding the ruined infrastructure? (Lovins estimates that about a third of the military's oil is used to run generators, the vast majority of which power air-conditioning units.) And compared with the second world war, the military in Iraq and Afghanistan is using 16 times more fuel per soldier, according to a Pentagon report published this year.