Sonia Shah: Oiling the war machine

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[Quotes and Insights #10]

“The U.S. military consumes about 85 million barrels of oil a year, making it the biggest single consumer of fuel in the country and perhaps the world. Accordng to an interdisciplinary panel convened by the Defense Science Board (DSB ), cheap oil has distorted the American military into a handful of super-killing steel monsters, with the majority of the forces devoted to the logistics of simply feeding and fueling them.

“The Army employed sixty thousand soldiers solely for the purpose of providing petroleum, oil, and lubricants to its war machines, which have themselves become increasingly fuel-heavy. The sixty-eight-ton Abrams tank, for instance, burns through a gallon of fuel for every half mile. With its inefficient, 1960s-era engine, the Abrams tank burns twelve gallons of fuel an hour just idling.

“So much time and money is spent fueling the American fighting machines that, according to the head of the Army Materiel Command, a gallon of fuel delivered to the U.S. military in action can ultimately cost up to $400 a gallon. Indeed, 70 percent of the weight of all the soldiers, vehicles, and weapons of the entire U.S. Army is pure fuel.”

from Crude: The Story of Oil by Sonia Shah.
Seven Stories Press, 2004