Saturday, September 23, 2006

Neo Conservative Oil-Military-Industrial Complex

The US military oil consumption is generally regarded to be a small amount compared to the country’s gigantic consumption. (see more on this in my post The US Military Oil Consumption).

Oil is and will remain a strategic commodity. Therefore Pentagon will keep its interest on oil, therefore US military does not have a luxury of turning its back to oil, therefore military bases abroad will continue safeguarding oil transit routes and stay in and around of important oil producers, therefore the US government will do everything necessary to maintain its military have access to oil. Meanwhile, military industry will grow.

Is the US DoD an empire?

Here are some facts: (see US DoD Factsheet for further references)

1) The DoD is the only department that has departments within it: The Departments of the Navy, the Air Force, and the Army.

2) The US Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the world’s largest landlords. It owns or leases nearly 4,000 sites, on more than 30 million acres (half of the UK if you like), spread over 130 countries worldwide. (see The US Military Bases). If we include the unreported ones (for example the military bases overseas, which the DoD uses at no cost) that number would be even bigger. This is the US version of colonialism.

3) The US Military Expenditures is over $500 billion a year, the largest in the world with its more than 50% share. As Martin Luther King once said “A nation that continues year and year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

4) The DoD is the world’s largest employer directly employing more than three million people.

5) The US is the world’s biggest arms supplier, with over 50% share, or almost $20 billion. (see, Worldwide Conventional Arms Sales).

6) The US has world’s largest nuclear warheads stockpile (10,104 warheads, of which 5,735 is operational). (see, Nuclear Weapons). Indeed, I still do not understand why DoD does not change its name to its old name “Department of War”.

7) The US military is the biggest purchaser and consumer of oil (as well as biodiesel) in the world. Also, the US Navy is the largest user of diesel fuel in the world.

In sum, if the US is an empire, then Department of Defense is an empire within an empire.
And that empire runs on oil.

The US Military Oil Consumption

The US DoD consumes 365 thousand barrels of oil a day (kb/d) according to the official figures, equivalent to consumption of Greece, at a cost of almost $9 billion. This, however, is not a complete picture because it excludes a) the amount of fuels supplied by service contractors; b) the amount of fuel used for delivery and its related cost; c) the amount of unpaid oil (Note that during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia and the UAE supplied 1.5 billion gallons of fuel. By the way, the DoD does not pay the market price for fuels).

Therefore, I believe that the US military oil consumption is bigger than officially stated. My calculations show that it is in fact around 500 kb/d, of which 350 kb/d is consumed abroad.

Is 500 kb/d important? If not important, why then was all the talk about the production loss at the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska (roughly the same amount anyway) ?

Energy use in FY2005 among the branches: Air Force 53%, Navy 32%, Army 12%, the rest 3%.
Fuel use by mode: Aviation fuel 89% (mobility 49%, fighter 25%, bomber 7%, trainer 3%, other 5%), ground fuel 3%, facility electricity 3%, other 5%.

Unfortunately, the DoD still does not know exactly (I have never seen anywhere even slightly) how much energy (domestic and overseas locations) by fuel type is used by mode (vehicles, jetfighters etc) and by service (army, navy etc), and how much of that energy is purchased, self generated, and contracted. Also, how much fuel do the service providers use for the DoD.

And yet oil is a vital military commodity

Oil has been a vital military commodity, especially after the WWII.

German panzers had faced oil problem in North Africa and Japanese Navy in Pacific during WWII. Today all moving military devices, except for nuclear submarines, run on oil and the US DESC has no easy life for bringing oil to users. Tomorrow will be the same too.

In fact, Pentagon is more addicted to oil than President Bush imagines. That is why the Department of Defense is spending a lot of ink, time and money for efforts directed to reduce the US military oil consumption.

Recently, there is increasing number of articles in military publications about “transformation,” most of which foresee business as usual trend as far as future military fleet is concerned: keep the gas-guzzlers running on oil.

This fact was indeed the subject of an article by Sandra Erwin (Energy Conservation Plans Overlook Military Realities) appeared in September 2006 issue of Defense Watch magazine. She underlines some problems with Pentagon’s energy policy.

Just two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the Pentagon a “national security exemption” so it can continue to drive trucks with old, energy-inefficient engines that don’t meet the emissions standards required for commercial trucks….The Army once considered replacing the mother of all fuel-gorgers, the Abrams tank engine, with a more efficient diesel plant. But the Army leadership then reversed course because it was too expensive. Most recently, the Army cancelled a program to produce hybrid-diesel humvees, and has slowed down the development of other hybrid trucks in the medium and heavy fleets. ….The Air Force has been contemplating the replacement of its surveillance, cargo and tanker aircraft engines, but the project was deemed too costly, and not worth any potential fuel savings.

Sure, Pentagon has started an “eager” program of research on alternative fuels, such as synthetic fuels, biofuels, hydrogen, fuel cells, wind, solar, nuclear etc. I discussed those programs and efforts in my previous posts. (see US Navy Energy Policy, US Air Force Energy Policy, US Army Energy Policy, and Department of Defense Energy Policy)
Many of the alternative fuels discussed by the DoD go beyond oil and focus on developing ways for replacing electricity produced from conventional fuels.

to be continued in the next post....


At 1:21 AM, Blogger Dave King said...

Thanks! I've been wondering about US military consumption since I saw a great peak oil presentation last week by Pamela Quigley and Steve Andrews (of


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