Friday, July 27, 2007

A Warning on DOD Energy Use

I have been following the developments on US military energy consumption for many years. I could barely see an article specifically discussing the DoD energy use and pattern, the dependence of the US military on oil, new energy alternatives, energy efficient equipments and especially energy conservation.

Since the beginning of this century, and in particular due to the skyrocketing oil prices, the US military energy consumption is not only discussed in military circles but also in the US Congress and even in media. I had only one folder full of articles on the US military use. Now, after having 6 folders I have given up printing and have started storing them in electronic format. But that has started to become a problem as well. 6 Gbyte of documents! Even my Excel workbooks containing the data related to the DoD energy consumption have multiplied in time and has become unmanageable.

I thought that writing a blog would force me to get organized. I don’t write much. Normally one post a week. Once in a while I check whether somebody is reading my writings on my blog. Not many. On average 30 real readers a day.[1] Surprisingly most of the readers are from the US military circles, ranging from the Pentagon to military bases, to defense industry, to CIA and to think tanks. This is the good news. The bad news is that my hobby has become much more time consuming. After all, I do all these as a hobby. What a hobby though! At work I only deal with oil and gas upstream, markets and geopolitics. So, no time for any hobby. I prefer not to write on oil market issues due to a possible conflict of interest with my work.

Anyway, let me get back to the real issue.

I base all my writings on hard data. Most of the time I question the data and hence dig deeper. This is my handicap. I spent too many years on numbers crunching and as a habit I never ever take any statistics at face value. I always check with the original source where and when available. So is the case with the US military energy consumption data.

I see more and more presentations, reports and articles citing or showing the DoD energy consumption statistics. Some mixes energy consumption with costs,[2] some think that Jet fuel is only used by aircraft, and some others think that oil can easily be substituted by other fuels.

A not well informed person should be forgiven. The DoD is so disorganized when it comes to energy matters. People usually do not know which publication or source to look and where to look in order to be able to get info on the DoD energy use. They see one chart or one line somewhere and easily jump on it and think that it is the hard truth.

But if the DoD officials do the same mistake then this cannot be forgiven. Check out the recent presentations made by the DoD officials, civilian or military. They still confuse tactical vehicles with non-tactical ones, or fleet vehicles with non-fleet vehicles. In all their presentations (with no exception) mobility indeed refers to tactical vehicles, and their energy consumption figures hence exclude non-tactical vehicles. How can we ignore 187,500 non-tactical vehicles the DoD owns or leases. Am I wrong ? Challenge me! How can we ignore 97 million gallons of fuel consumed in FY2006 by those vehicles? How can we ignore $843.7 million paid for the fuel consumed by those vehicles?

Why is that? Because, the DoD energy people use Federal Energy Management Report for their source. Fine, but do they read that carefully? Some others refer to DESC data. Are the data in DESC and FEMR the same? No! Why? A long history…

Also, when presenting energy reduction success stories and demonstrating how well the DoD reduced its energy consumption please underline the fact that all those good news are valid for facility energy use only, which represents only one quarter of the DoD energy use, and mostly means electricity. Mention also that metering, privatization and outsourcing helped immensely.

Well, this post is getting longer that I thought. So, I would like to make just one single, simple warning to the DoD energy managers and officials. When showing the DoD energy consumption for any fiscal year please do include non-tactical vehicle energy consumption in your numbers. In the below given chart, I show what is used by the DoD non-tactical vehicles. So, add that amount and its cost into your total DoD energy consumption statistics, and revise your pie charts using FEMR data only. This means that Defense Science Board task force on DoD energy strategy should also revise their figures.

And finally I would like to make a remark. I see my estimates concerning the US military consumption abroad (especially in Iraq and Afghanistan) as well as per soldier oil use in historical context are quoted often. But please be honest and give at least a credit to my work by quoting my relevant articles in which I made those estimates. But don’t sell them as if they are yours! You can repost everything on my blog without asking my opinion but please indicate the source.

[1] What is the distinction between a real and non-real reader? Well, I am a Turk and my first name “sohbet” in Turkish means “chat”! Therefore I consider the ones that come to my page from a google search “Sohbet” as non-real reader.
[2] partly Defense Energy Support Center of the DoD is to be blamed since their Fact Book is not an easy read.

Tags: Military Energy Consumption, Alternative Fuels, Department of Defense, US Military, Military Oil Consumption


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