Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fuel Consumption per US Soldier per day

In May 2007 I posted here an article entitled US Military Energy Consumption - Facts and Figures. In FACT 13, I claimed that American GI is the most energy-consuming soldier ever seen on the field of war.

I see that statistics on fuel consumption per US soldier is getting much attention and attraction. The last news report citing that issue was Military Feels Fuel-Cost Gouge in Iraq in April 2008.

In this post I try give an overview of all the reported statistics on per US soldier oil consumption (abroad).

How much fuel is consumed per US soldier per day? Early estimates….

Well, good luck if you see any consistent and meaningful figure.

In March 2006, Carlton Meyer, a former Marine officer who runs G2mil Quarterly, a Web site on military issues, was quoted saying "The U.S. Army burned 12 times more fuel per soldier in Iraq than it did in France in 1944 -- nine gallons of fuel per soldier per day in 2004."

How much fuel was then consumed per US Army soldier in France in 1944?

Well, basic arithmetic applied to Carlton Meyer’s claim indicates 0.75 gallon/soldier/day.

In May 2005 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Robert Bryce stated that “The Third Army (of General Patton) had about 400,000 men and used about 400,000 gallons of gasoline a day.” This makes one gallon per day per soldier.

O.K. you can round up 0.75 to 1 gallon/soldier/day. But remember that it is Patton’s soldiers in France in 1944, and not per US soldier in World War II.

A presentation accompanying the Defense Science Board report called DoD Energy Strategy "More Fight - Less Fuel" (released on February 12, 2008) shows that 1.8 million gallons of fuel per day was consumed by 1,075,681 soldiers in 1944. This makes 1.67 gallons/soldier/day. I do not know what that figure refers to in 1944 (deployed soldiers?) but surely it does not refer to Patton’s Third Army.

How much fuel is consumed per US soldier in Iraq?

What had stuck me most in a LMI study (“Transforming the Way DoD Looks at Energy: An Approach to Establishing an Energy Strategy” released on May 8, 2007)[1] was its US military oil consumption estimates in Afghanistan and Iraq. LMI study quotes an article of Max Boot in LA times in July 2006 saying about 2.4 million gallons (57,000 barrels) of fuel is consumed every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.[2]

Based on the data, apparently provided by the U.S. Central Command, LMI study says, “DoD is using approximately 57,000 barrels a day, at a cost of about $3 million per day. This equates to about 16 gallons per soldier per day [in 2006]. This is significantly more than the 2005 consumption rate of 9 gallons per soldier. These numbers make it clear that energy consumption for military operations has increased dramatically in the last 15 years. In Desert Storm, consumption was 4 gallons per soldier per soldier, and in World War II, consumption was only 1 gallon per day per soldier.”

DSB study presentation shows that 4.1 million gallons of fuel was consumed by 150,000 soldiers in Iraq in 2004. This equates to 27.3 gallons/soldier/day.

source: DSB

What is wrong with those estimates?

I questioned the reliability of those figures several times. Here is my conclusion: It is not possible to come up with such a fuel consumption of 16 or 9 gallons per SOLDIER per day, simply because of the inexact nature of number of soldiers used as denominator.

Concluding remarks

The US military oil consumption statistics especially in terms of per soldier per day is very confusing. It is better to use military oil consumption per day.

According to my estimates US military oil consumption abroad was 42.8 kbd (1000 barrels per day) in World War II. It jumped to 74.1 kbd in Vietnam War[3] and to 152 kbd in Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield/Storm). And IF you believe the DoD figures, the US military consumes less than 50 kbd in Iraq.

Tags: Military Energy Consumption, US Department of Defense






Footnotes:
[1] The study was prepared by LMI Government Consulting for the Department of Defense. The aim, LMI says, is to develop an approach to establishing a DoD energy strategy. (see my comments on the study: Much Ado for Nothing: Transforming the Way DoD Looks at Energy.)
[2] Did USCENTCOM give the LMI and Max Boot such a data? Or somehow the figure is based on my estimates in June 2006? Or we all are using a mutant statistics?
[3] For the period of 1964 to 1970.

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