A Growing Military Concern...

One of the most critical aspects of military operations is the reliance on fuel. I was struck by that as I am currently half-way through the video series based on Daniel Yergin's "The Prize" and have just watched the segment on the Second World War. Access to oil was critical to success. Assuring that access has, as a result, been a critical part of military preparedness. It is therefore interesting to see, courtesy of Leanan and the Energy Bulletin (pdf available at that site), that the one-time general in charge of the U.S. Army Material Command, is now, as a scholar at West Point, concerned enough about oil supply to write a paper. The paper begins
Without ready alternatives to replace ever more costly and scarce oil, we are entering an age of uncertainty and insecurity unlike any other that could include economic stagnation or even reversal. Although the military will always have access to the fuel required for national security missions, the costs will rise substantially in the near future and require the reallocation of resources from other critical mission elements and programs.
The military has, through time, become even more dependent on fuel to meet its mission. The paper notes that it now takes about 16 times as much fuel per soldier as it did in World War 2.
The true cost of moving fuel, however, is even higher In 2004, during periods of heavy equipment movement, it is estimated that the military used over 4 million gallons of fuel per day in Iraq. This estimate is for both U.S. and coalition forces; however the majority of this fuel is used by the U.S. Army. To meet this need, DOD uses in excess of 5,500 trucks to deliver fuel from Kuwait, Turkey and Jordan. In comparison during World War II, on 24 August 1944 during Operation "Red Ball", Allied Forces used 1.8 Million gallons per day.
The paper concludes that a significant effort must be made to change the culture so that energy efficiency is both a factor in equipment design, and also in use, both in the direct facets of the military mission, and in the support train that must provide for it.

The concern extends beyond the Army and West Point, we have noted in earlier posts the report from the Corps of Engineers (pdf file) that discussed this topic. More recently, at the beginning of July the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on Biofuel Generation. The overall concern is because the military is currently using around 400,000 bd.

In fiscal 2004, the U.S. military consumed 144.8 million barrels of fuel, spending $6.7 billion, according to the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC). Last year it consumed only 128.3 million barrels, but spent $8.8 billion, as the average price per barrel rose by almost 50% to more than $68. For 2006, DESC estimates the military will need 130.6 mb and pay more than $10 billion for it.

The DoD has largely standardized on jet Fuel (JP-8) as the common fuel for the services, and it occupies more than 70% of the purchase requirements. Jet fuel has two significant relevant requirements in the military specification, one relating to energy content, and one to cold flow characteristics. (Fuel must flow at minus 50 degrees, the temperature at the height at which jet aircraft fly).

Recognizing the need for a new source, DARPA issued this BAA, anticipating that biodiesel (though would be willing to accept a demonstrated alternative) would be a likely source for sustainable economic production of jet fuel. However DARPA also recognizes the factor of cost and so it seeks a process and source that will be both secure, and of sustainable price, into the foreseeable future. They anticipate that this will, for those reasons, be from a biological origin.

To illustrate the need for a new process, rather than existing technology, they used soy bean oil as an example source. The conventional method for turning biodiesel to JP-8 uses the Fischer-Tropsch process. This path has been evaluated by the Government and was found to have an efficiency of between 8 & 15%. Assuming 10% for illustration, means that 10 gallons of soy fuel are required for 1 gallon of JP-8. If soy oil costs $2 a gallon, this give the source fuel cost alone for a gallon of JP-8 to be $20.Further this does not address the potential increase in price of the oil as the need for an additional 160 million gallons a day impacts the market. Neglecting the latter issue, DARPA is first concerned to find a process that will be at least 60% efficient (bringing the fuel stock price down to around $3 a gallon), with the hope that it can be ultimately brought to 90%.

In addition to the technology required to make the conversion (which must be validated to supply DARPA with 100 liters of JP-8 in 18 months), the agency is concerned to ensure that there is a plan in place to provide a sufficiency of fuel at the required price, when needed (the production plan) and a plan must also be in place to commercialize the product and thereby (since DoD only uses around 17% of the national jet fuel need, the rest going to commercial planes) to reduce long-term the cost of the fuel to DoD.

Putting these three different events together it would appear that the military are definitely becoming more concerned to ensure that they are going to be sufficiently mobile into the future. They, rather obviously, are not convinced that the supplies of fuel that they need, are going to be there from conventional sources. It will be interesting to see how fast this "conversion" moves to other agencies.

I wish I never went down the rabbit hole. these are truly interesting times.
my boy turns 7 in 7 days, po, gw, gmo, laugh just to keep from cryin
my best to all toders.
Some thoughts...

If anyone can create a 60% or even 90% efficient conversion process, DARPA would be one agency I'd bet on. DARPA has deep pockets and a large, pre-existing research culture that doesn't have to be assembled from scratch either.

Further, while biofuels cannot scale to replace the "easy motoring utopia" (to quote Kunstler), biofuels definitely could fill most or even all of national defense liquid fuel needs. Those needs remain a small fraction of our total national consumption. The article notes that DoD used 128 million barrels total in 2005. For reference, the United States as a whole used about 7 billion barrels in 2005. Military usage is a small fraction of our total consumption, under 2% total nationally. In other words, we may be able to have our national defense but it doesn't look like we'll have our easy motoring lifestyle.

Historically, the US Department of Defense has been very aware of energy issues for a long time though these issues are coming to the forefront now. They already are using wind and solar power in camps in Iraq and are actually asking for more such generators instead of liquid fueled ones because the "green" generators reduce security issues compared to liquid fuel generators.

Finally, this is a positive sign, at least for the United States. For all its warts and foibles, when the Pentagon stirs on a topic, people listen and react. A DARPA project is a very positive development, in addition to the private commercial work that goes on now anyway.

biofuels definitely could fill most or even all of national defense liquid fuel needs.

How would the citizens feel about 'toiling in a field' for fuel to power the military part of the military-industrial-congressional complex?   Claims of 'give me the privilage of liquid fuel because my work is needed for keeping the military running' would be fast and furious.

Meanwhile, otheres would point to claims of fraud and greed (tax the war profiteers ring a bell?  How about 'we can't find 2.1 trillion in the Pentagon budget'?)  Not to mention funding and fuel for unpopular military actions.

I tend to think if the military is going to transition from oil it will most likely to another fossil fuel based source.

I'm thinking coal.

It's been done before (Nazi Germany), the technology is there, our supply is clearly there.  It's only a matter of time.  Somewhere I was reading (no link) that some researcher was working on making a coal-based liquid fuel capable of aircraft temperature tolerances and getting favorable results.  

Now what will make more sense in the plausibility department. The military trying to appropriate 16% of this country's arable lands to their fuel needs or buying existing coal supplies/opening new ones?  Door number 2 makes more sense.

Too bad for central appalachia and the intermountain west but oh well, got keep fighting them terrorists.

Seriously folks, coal is gonna be the military's go-to fuel of the future (if indeed there is a future for our high-energy military operations.)

Nuke power over wind (for moving about ships)   And citizens won't have much to say, because what citizen can use fission?   But coal....if a citizen can burn some coal to keep warm OR to be made into a fuel to keep a plane flying for 1/10 of a second....I'm betting they'd like to stay warm.  

I've not seen any breakdown of the effect of peak oil on policing efforts, but would citizens want to keep street lights on VS lights in their own homes/power for the sewage plants?   How about for keeping patrol cars running?    

And, even more scarry - how about 'its cheaper for the US of A to use a nuke/some biological VS boots on the ground' equation.

sigh  Wet cats.  Sack.  sigh

Let's assume that DOD is able to convert at 50% efficiency (for the sake of argument and simplicity) or 2:1.

128 million barrels of fuel would require ~250 million barrels of biofuel.  

According to wikipedia, one can get 3.3 barrels of biofuels per acre by using mustard (much better than soybeans). So the military would require about 75 million acres of farmland at present rates of oil use. (presumably they could cut way back by becoming far more efficient and conservative.)

There are at present about 470 million acres of arable land in the US. So the military would require about 16% of it for transportation alone.

Once again we come up on the limits to "the present way of doing things".

Biofuel and 'biodiesel' are not the same thing Jim.
Clearly the Navy has more sucessfully adapted to the post Peak Oil environment and perhaps that will be sufficient once the US adopts a sensible foreign policy. (Yes, I know, aircraft carriers and all, but hey, their planes won't be flying either.)

The interesting thing is that the truth about the challenge our civilization is facing is emerging in places that one might not expect. The key is for environmentalists and military strategists (as well as the rest of us) to work together so we all don't end up eating old shoes for dinner (unless of course your worldview calls for eating old shoes, more power to you, mine doesn't.)


CassandraOil, your points...
"Clearly the Navy has more successfully adapted to the post Peak Oil environment",
"Yes, I know, aircraft carriers and all."

For various reason, I have never been a fan of nuclear energy.  Yes, it will work, and yes, it makes loads of concentrated power, and I do not have any great disdain for it, I just don't think it makes sense in the civilian power market.
However, as Hyman Rickover understood when he created the nuclear navy, in military applications, nuclear has much to give, beside just weapons.

If it should ever become needed, nuclear applied to the oil shale and tar sands would assure enough energy to run a vast military machine seemingly forever, if no other drain were to be made on the fuels in question.  The military know it, we the public know it, and our enemies know it.

The two deciding and crucial factors are wealth and will.  It might not be cheap.  On the other hand, if the EROEI of conventional fossil fuels continued to rise, it could actually be a bargain, from a dollar cost standpoint, if you lay aside environmental and safety aspects.  This brings us to the point of will, that is, at what point would a military establishment exceed the tolerance of it's own people in it's practices and be seen as a greater threat than any enemy.  A major nuclear accident or environmental catastrophe could bring a breaking point, at which point the military would have to decide whether it should resist it's own people to hold on to power, or to pull back from the most radical methods.  The Red Army in the U.S.S.R faced something of exactly that nature in it's final days, before the culture the army was defending collapsed, thus ending the validity of the Soviet military.  But there seems to be no indication whatsoever that the barrier to the military having fuel is a technical one. In closing it must be remembered that no other military in the world has an exemption from the need for energy if they intend to stay viable and competitive.

  If I had to pick a military to bet on, it would be one that has a supply of crude oil, natural gas, coal, untapped alternatives like shale oil, landspace for biofuel, an advanced technical and nuclear sector inside it's own area of control. a large electric power grid with hydroelectric as a stable strategic area in which to build munitions and other technology and an educated workforce.  Yep, The United States strategic situation is still dammed hard to top.  In fact, it's the one area of our cultural heritage and destiny we have expended the effort to maintain.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Actually your greatest strategic benefit is the absence of any powerful neighbours on your continent. It is one of the most unfortunate features of the Earth's geography and prevents your nation from getting the comeuppance it truly deserves. If only you had a few hundred years of living next to equally belligerent and powerful neighbours who had flattened your territory on numerous occasions and killed your menfolk in their millions... in that event war would be a considerably less popular option in the United States than it is today. The Germans and the French really learnt the hard way. But learn they did.
Boy, another one of those anti-Americans, who just doesn't understand that America only kills, maims, and destroys with the purest of intentions and the best interests of others at heart, as a matter of compassionate self-sacrifice to make the world a better place.

As a matter of fact, our God is bigger than anybody else's, as noted by the man who is currently Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Warfighting Support. (What a great job for a self-professed follower of Jesus Christ - 'Warfighting Support.' You just can't make this stuff up.)

Besides, war makes a nation great. It says so right in this German book from the 1920s - oops, wrong book. Or the writings of some short French guy from the early 1800s - oops, wrong again. I meant the Constitution, which is just chock full of information about how to make napalm and cruise missiles, while giving the president power beyond any restraint, to ensure liberty and justice for whoever the president thinks deserves it.

No, Americans are pretty clueless about war means, and they honestly think Hollywood's version of it is real, while blocking any attempt to show the reality of war from its citizens, as such imagery is just too disturbing to be broadcast.

As a final note - the part about 'anti-American' is in jest, as is the part about napalm and cruise missiles. Sadly, the rest is more true than not, and is not in jest at all.

"You can't say Americans are not
more violent than other people?


All those people killed in shootings
in America?

Shootings. That doesn't mean Americans
are more violent than other people.

We're just better shots.  "

     Whit Stillman - Barcelona

... "That's what's great about
getting involved with a foreigner.

You can't take it personally.

What's really terrific is that when we act
in ways which might objectively...

...seem assholish, or incredibly annoying,
they don't get upset at all.

They just assume it's some
national characteristic.

  • Cosa de gringos.
  • Yeah.  "

I was simply dealing with the technical aspect of energy, not the larger moral/cultural/philospophical discussion of war in general.  Even most Americans will agree that our latest adventure was ill thought out from the start, leaving aside the ethical issues.

War is a waste and a mistake by someone whenever and wherever they occur.  It is seldom in history that a country gets to say "Dang, I'm glad we got in that war".  They are best avoided if possible.

We live in interesting times.  War is a waste of resources, and the one thing that most of us agree on here at TOD is that resources may be in short supply in the world for the foreseeable future.  Have we reached the age in which war, like giant showy cars and houses are a luxury we simply can't afford?
If so, do we have enough sense to realize it?

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

I agree, this is the big question. Stupidity or not, the human race has done a very effective job in taking over most of the resources of this planet. Now, the end of that game is in sight.

So, will we continue to compete for a diminishing resources, even though competition through warfare will deplete those resources at an even faster rate? Or are we capable of learning behaviors different from what got us this far.

Don't ask me what outcome I would bet on, but we really have no choice but to try and achieve the latter.

Tony Verbalis  


After any war, the US Tendency has always been to go isolationist.

In times past, the US has been able to afford to do just that because it was blessed with resources and a level of self sufficient primary commercial activity (lumber, metals, oil, coal, grain, fruit, livestock etc.) These commodities had its own internal markets (cloth mills, steel production, shops on main street, gun and tool makers, excellent furniture and cabinet makers etc. Oh, and some very fine small town architecture)

ps , I have a few pieces of your colonial style furniture. It is elegant, functional, and still works.

So, with all this intrinsic wealth and three thousand miles from the nearest threat on either side, The US was in a unique position to withstand the tempests of the world. It got you in pole position after the Great War and confirmed your position as the climax industrial civilisation after the Second World War.

After Iraq, the isolationist tendency will gain ground, except that this time, the US is interdependent on globalised trade; especially for raw energy.

This garden of eden , capable of ignoring the world's problems is now fatally flawed: Your offshoring-capitalists have wrecked your ability to look after yourselves. Do you know (for example) where your filter masks come from in the event of avian flu breaking out?
- Thats right, you have offshored it to SE Asia (the place where they are likely to have first call, and you can whistle for help). Same goes for plastic syringes.

You have offshored your entire strategic wealth. All in the name of globalisation, and all due to the prancing of the wealthy b(w)ankers, economists and financial managers.
(talk about the 'empty raincoat'...)

Truly, at some point in the future, you will consider shooting these creatures through both lungs with cross hatched ammo. And all because they sold you all down the river.

But by then , it will be too late. They will have made a pile and you will be outside the lifeboat.

I think I am looking at the demise of the greatest nation on earth (how many others have planted a flag on the moon?).

And all for a handfull of a rich, preppy elite who turned you all over for a percentage.

It really is time you got a grip on your nationhood and took back what they have stolen from you.

Still. Fly the flag, buy junk, send your boys and girls to fight in criminal wars and be returned physically and psychologically mutilated.

But dont forget: your doing it for men and women who wear the enamelled 'old glorys' on the lapels of their hand made suits.

Have a nice day :-)

Reply to Mudloggers Rant Extraordinare:

Quite good actually and quite accurate in general.

Yes, it was the yuppies that did it. The yups that the boomers raised. Gave them everything. Plenty of 'timeouts' and soccer, with mom in the drivers seat of the SUV mind you and papa taking the stick over his back yet pissing it all away for a easy piece of female pleasure(I won't use the word ASS here though) but its a better fit(sexual revolution ,doncha know).

So what we have are a bunch of whining, spoiled , thumbsuckers who have been sheltered by mum from the realities of life and given the formula for destroying life.

How could it have turned out differently? They moved into the workerbee bullpens and right on into mgmt. They became the egoistic , short term goal, risk adverse assholes of corporate Amurka. They watched Clinton for the right moves and along with his sidekick Ron Brown showed how it was all done.

We inherited this mess. Now we will die with it. The ones who did it should be the ones to take the first incoming rounds and by golly I think they will, praise be to Allah , be he so merciful for finally setting the ending act up.

Yes its all over and we understand that each time we travel to Grannies house for Thanksgiving, even though the young pups threw her in a nursing home long long ago and grabbed her assets as well. Travel like I did along the interstates and watch the pitiful madness we are. The utter total absolute stupidity of Amurka and the generation who spawned such ignorant abhorrent,suckass lifestyles.

I spent four days doing this and was amazed at what I hadn't seen in a while. Its like they say here. We are dead. Not a chance in hell. We are dead Amurkans walking or better who just haven't stopped driving as yet.

Its was fun for the 'Class of '57' while it lasted. Rock and Roll, Elvis, trips to the moon, teenangels, hot rods and .........finally the exit.. for the fat lady is truly singing. Singing her fat ass off. Next the curtain falls.

airdale--locked down tight on the farm

P.S. I admit freely that both of my offspring are to blame just as much though I was not a boomer. I took the stick. Each day I fought the good fight and lost. The MSM took care of that. Divorce in the offing took the rest. Children who spit on your ideas and thoughts about how to live properly. Yes I fought and lost. Now its me, the dogs and the farm.

P.P.S. Screw you Dr. Spock and your buddy Dr. Phil. Jerks!

The French learned a different lesson.  

Use foreigners.  

See French Foreign Legion and how many times they have been deployed into combat.  Puts the US to shame !


The challenge our civilization is facing is emerging in places that one might not expect.

Doubleplus Cassandra.

The idea that we start the downslide and everything else stays equal, that oil is simply more expensive, I don't buy it. An aircraft carrier, nuke powered or not, won't go anywhere without its convoy. Likewise, oil tankers will only move in convoys. We won't be able to make dacron to make sails for sail powered oil tankers. We won't be able to rebuild the entire infrastructure.

The DOD report highlights conservation, life-style change, substitution and deprivation. That four letter word - LESS. And LESS in a context of social unrest.

cfm in Gray, ME

"The key is for environmentalists and military strategists (as well as the rest of us) to work together"

The only way a Powerdown type strategy will work is if the military is willing to come into your house and kick your ass should you use more than your share since people are, more or less, wired to cheat when it comes to these things.

There is an inherent irony here in that many "peak oil activists" came out of the anti-war or peace and justice movements.

Sadly, Jay had it right about these matters.

Let's build more Hummers!

Better lets cut the military budget in half, that will help them with their fuel problem.

I think a blended fuel is the answer. I accidentally mixed turpentine with biodiesel and it worked great in a pickup in light frosty weather. Even if the war situation lightens up there will be plenty more call outs for the military with extreme weather events.
I'm going to assert something i'll probably get shot down in flames for! But here goes anyway.

It is a waste of time discussing the possibility of running out of oil during times of war. Any invading that has been done recently has usually been my nuclear powers and NOT on their soil - it's all been about sovereinty, empire and 'Democracy'.

From Vietnam to the Falklands to Iraq to Iraq to Iraq to bosnia to Afganistan. None of these wars were neccesary and they did not serve in direct defence of our countries. Any sheeple who believe that these wars were sold on anything more that empty propaganda, feel free to Baaaaaaa.

This is the important point: Backed into a corner by a major force and unable to defend ourselves using conventional weapons we would quickly go nuclear.
There is no doubt on this. However there is really no-one to defend ourselves against as no-one is attacking us.
Try this as an excercise. List the top causes of death in the western world 1-1000. Where do you think 'caused by foreign enemy' comes on this list. At a guess i'd say it's not even in the top 1000.

It's all B****T.

To sum up. If we want to wage phony wars then yes we need lots of oil.



Where do you think 'caused by foreign enemy' comes on this list. At a guess i'd say it's not even in the top 1000.

Depends. I'd say that if it was an Iraqi citizen writing up that list that "caused by foreign enemy" comes right at the very top.

Yes and that was caused by us. (I am a British citizen)


I guess you need to look at the ERoEI of the conflict in relation to the objectives.

GWII has used a fair amount of energy to conduct, has lost the USA and the UK a fair amount of international goodwill and has secured the USA and UK zero energy resources for the future.  So it looks like the ERoEI of this  adventure is close to zero.

In fact, the goodwill may have helped secure energy else where, and its loss probably sticks the ERoEI of GWII into negative territory - competing with hydrogen in that regard.

There are of course no energy shortages, just huge amounts of energy waste.  I'm still a great fan of imposing massive tax on US gasoline, setting an engine size limit and speed limit for cars and trucks and for costing airline tickets based on the mass of the passenger.


I would vote for you, but I'm neither USAn nor Brit.  I think that your proposed solution fo limiting te size and power of engines is the first law that should be passed, and quickly.  It would extend the span of availability of FF tremendously, as you well know.
Three issues, interrelated:

1. strategic - the US military needs a lot of oil, and the infrastructure to put that oil where it burns it.

But the US (civilian) economy is an inefficient user of oil, and there is a lot of oil production on the North American mainland (tar sands, conventional etc.).

So in a national emergency the US military can always get oil.  American civilians can conserve oil, and there are domestic supplies.

However, if the price of oil is $150/bl, this has budgetary issues.  Oil consumption would 'crowd out' necessary military expenditure in other areas, and would probably lead to reduced spending on training (which is utterly vital).

There is precedent.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, its Navy ships were unable to leave port due to fuel shortages, and all military activities were severely curtailed (for the same reasons).  An army that doesn't train and exercise, will rapidly lose its combat edge.

2. operational - the US military is configured around a high fuel burn rate.  

US Armoured Brigades burn fuel faster than any other mechanised formations in history.

Getting that fuel to the M1A1 Abrams tanks, the M2 and M3 Bradleys, all the support vehicles and the Blackhawk helicopters is a major operational challenge.  If you have to airlift it, you are spending several gallons of fuel to get 1 gallon into the hands of the troops.

The Abrams in particular is almost unique on world battlefields: a gas turbine engine with very poor fuel economy.  A design for a new, easier to repair, more fuel efficient engine was deleted due to Budgetary Constraints.

In effect what it leaves you with is an operational nightmare, with long supply lines of fuel trucks which need protection from insurgents, and enemy air and artillery power.  Remember Private Lynch?  She was part of a maintenance battalion that got lost and ran into enemy forces.

The greatest achievement of the invasion of Iraq was keeping the troops fuelled during their drive across the desert to Baghdad.

The greatest risk now to US forces is that their supply lines run through potentially hostile country, with loads of ambush points and more bridges than can be sensibly defended.

3. tactical

See 2.  The battlefield mobility of US forces can be severely restricted by fuel shortages.

freaky how m1 m2 and m3 are measures of money supply and size of abrams tanks
Interesting correlation...have the M3 tanks gone missing recently?
But before that the Main Battle Tanks were the M48 Patton and the M60 (not sure if it was named after a general--- checked, turns out it was also called the 'Patton' ie an upgrading of the M48 but with the 105mm gun



note the M1 has twice the horsepower 1500 v. 750hp. (and gas consumption even worse due to the gas turbine).  The 70 ton weight of the M1A2 limits tactical mobility, especially in Third World countries where the bridges can't take the weight.

The M60 had the typical flaws of a US tank: very high profile, which meant you could see it all over the battlefield (conversely, it means you are better in a hull down position because you don't have to move to shoot from the turret).

The Armoured Personnel Carrier from the early 1960s to the mid 1980s was the M113.  And there are still more M113s in service than M2/M3s.

The Stryker is interesting, because it is a reversion to wheeled vehicles (very controversially) and therefore should have a lot better fuel economy.

thanks for the info
We need to remember that the military serves the state, not vice versa. We invest money and fuel into the military to defend national interests, but if and when the calculations of cost/benefit change, so will the status of the military.

At this point, the civilian leadership has been using the military to dominate the world, with emphasis on strategic locations like the middle east. If the costs grow larger than the benefits, the civilian leadership will change its strategy.

After peak oil, when we are firmly on the downslope, there will be some very difficult choices in Washington. If it gets to the point where the military cannot ensure energy supplies, when the costs outgrow the benefits, I have no doubt the leadership would seriously consider pulling back to "fortress america".

If we aren't fighting overseas to preserve inflows of strategic goods (like oil), then there isn't much use for M1 tanks and F-15s. Sitting mothballed, they don't use any fuel at all.

Armies are supposed to get louts off the streets and into groups that can be useful to a society - parades, disaster relief, self defence, etc., not for actually fighting wars.  It's amazing how stupid are both the British and US governments and military.
These guys at West Point MUST have written their paper well before the latest CERA report or they would have just stopped their research (sarcasm).

This adds more weight to the fact that the CERA report was blowing smoke.  Why would our best military minds even be researching this if we had ample supply of conventional oil for the next 40 years?

Well, and this time, I am being serious, because part of their job is determining how to best deprive America's opponents of  oil while ensuring America's own oil supplies, which means they have an excellent idea of how trivial it is to disrupt or ruin oil flows and infrastructure.

Speaking broadly, the military isn't that interested in the economics, per se - they too are very interested in what comes out of the pipeline in the end.

Obviously, when talking to people in charge of a budget process, they talk in budget terms. But when looking at a map, they worry about such non-theoretical problems as whether a few thousand fanatic Iranians on foot with RPGs can cut the fuel supply lines supporting  tens of thousands of American soldiers. By the way, the answer to that concern is yes, in case anyone is wondering - and then we bomb Iran, and then Iran shuts the Straights of Hormuz, and then the price of oil skyrockets, and the amount of oil coming out of the pipeline declines - see how the military view of things works?

Peak oil is just a factor in their outlook, and has been for decades, at least since the 'Carter Doctrine.'

Righty-oooo....Peak Oil is just another calculated variable to take into consideration when planning for future maneuvers and operations.  I'm sure they've considered the impacts of possible Global Warming changes on military deployments as well.
Actually they have

An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and
Its Implications for United States National Security

Actually, then you missed the study from around 2004 - http://www.climate.org/topics/climate/pentagon.shtml

The military is an unusual institution in one way - their interest is in effects, basically, and not causes, except in the sense that effects have causes, and effects then become causes in term.

What the American military doesn't do (and broadly speaking, this is a good thing politically), is question either the causes or effects. They just plan and react, without feeling any need to direct the external political process. (And yes, this is a very, very simplified view, and also excludes what is generally called the military-industrial complex, which exists to direct the external political process to its benefit.)

Again, this is in reference to the institution of the American military, not necessarily individuals, and it is striking how they accept orders from both draft dodgers and people who shirked their duty. It will be a very bad sign for America when the military feels it must start making broad political decisions. Of course, it may be a very bad situation that gets causes that situation to arise.

For example, a slight tweak to my scenario - Bush orders Iran to be bombed, tens of thousands of fanatic Iranians on foot with RPGs cut off the supply lines to tens of thousands of now completely surrounded American military personnel, the Straights of Hormuz are blocked, and after the breakdown of the world economy in 3 weeks, a now desperate Commander in Chief, in response to tens of thousands massacred American soldiers and mounting domestic fury, decides to use nuclear weapons on those responsible.

How do you think those commanders would respond? And yes, I am sure a good number of them have thought about this, even if they have never shared their thoughts to anyone else. And no, I have absolutely no idea what they would do. When facing catastrophe on such a scale, it is possible they would weigh other factors as being more important than their lifetime of following orders from their superiors. Or not.

Perhaps, if it gets to this point, our US Flag Officers will invoke the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice and do what many feel is the honorable thing under our Constitution.

The scenario you paint is extremely unlikely (there were many imaginary war books written from about 1870 to 1913 - and I have read many of them. None were close, but most were trying to prove a point, like commerce raiding is great, or airpower is the future - but not having a clue what it would really look like-).

But military officers have thought about this and the consensus has been you have to do something to us pretty bad before we nuke you. Our army and marines are too good to get trapped, we just have not figured out how to occupy properly when the political leadership does not think things out well.

But if something gets nuked, or say a bio attack that kills lots in Tel Aviv or NYC, the gloves come off.

We did get it right in Kosovo and Bosnia - especially the occupation part and we will be there for a long long time.

By the way, hybrid military equipment is on the way. Sweden (with the UK) has been experimenting with armored vehicles that are hybrid, and the USA army has been experimenting with alternative truck engine design, including with a California firm.

No real disagreement again - especially as if it seems the old Bush guard is replacing the new Bush guard - and although there are many things you can accuse the old Bush guard of, the sort of planning which seems to have seriously led to various 'planners' saying the Iraqis would greet us with roses is certainly not among them.

The point was that actually, the military plans incessantly, looking at any number of scenarios, regardless of how likely they may seem at any given point.

And that includes what to do if their quite long fuel supply lines are cut off, and they are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who are out looking for revenge. (Millions more will be ducking for whatever cover they can find.)

Unfortunately, the seriousness which most presidents seemed to have viewed their responsibilities, and this includes the former vacation champion Ronald Reagan, is notably lacking in Bush, who is again talking about winning in Iraq. Sadly, I can imagine Bush truly making mistakes which would ensure his going down in history as America's worst president. It seems as if his father shares that view.

It's complicated though.

SECDEF under Bush 41 was Dick Cheney who vigorously defended the decision not to 'drive to Baghdad'.

Gates was famous as the CIA Director whose appointment was opposed by his own analysts: they appeared before Congress to say he had wilfully altered estimates to increase the perception of a Soviet Threat.  His record on Iran-Contra included a good degree of selective 'forgetting'.

I don't think this is a sea change in Bush 43.  A moving of deck chairs (on the Titanic?) to be sure.  Rumsfeld was the fall guy, and he fell. But no one has asked Dick Cheney to resign, and there is no question he was the centre of the decision to go for Iraq (besides the President himself).

Our judgement of Bush 43 will have much to do with how he handles Iran.  If he goes for it with military action (as seems increasingly likely) then the next President will have a whole 'nother can of worms to handle.

My sense, as with Clinton, is we are going to see Bush 43 as a wasted opportunity-- to do something about Global Warming and energy consumption, to stabilise the current account deficit, to build a new international security architecture involving radical reductions in nuclear arsenals, to move forward on Israel-Palestine.

Actually, the changing of the guard was also meant in the sense that the old guard seems to have a real clue of how much there is to lose, something which Cheney seems either absolutely oblivious to, or else he knows some information (Energy Taskforce?) which makes such gambling worthwhile for a man who had better things to do the last time America tried its hand at improving a country through superior firepower.

Even more, you can sort of assume the old guard has certain numbers in their Rolodexes that Bush the younger never bother to write down - for example, many of our good buddies in Saudi Arabia.

In no sense does this mean they can solve the problems which resulted from letting Bush the Younger become president, but it does mean that they are likely to be a lot more adept.

For example, the spin of the Baker Commission, as it is called in Germany, is America will begin withdrawing.

In truth, what this report really seems to suggest is a pullback to the massive and prepared American bases, which ensure that even if America can't get much oil out of Iraq, nobody can get any. Which if it wasn't exactly plan A, was certainly plan A and a half in terms of all the planning and effort that went into these bases from the beginning. There still doesn't seem to be any real plan B.

If they can get the president to go along with it, of course. After all, this time, they finally put Jr. in a position they can't kick him out of, and where Jr. can remain the decider he has always wanted to be.

Why do Americans constantly pat themselves on the back for their exploits in the Balkans? Because it was less disastrous than exploits in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia etc.? etc.
I've never met a Kosovar, do know Montenegrins, Sarajevans, plenty of Serbs (born here and born there), while they give wildly varying accounts of politics, pretty general agreement US policy only made matters worse. And as you say, the occupation lasts forever
I think that's unfair.

Europe, and PM John Major and Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, fought damned hard to prevent us doing anything in Sarajevo.

It was Clinton who finally broke the logjam and showed the Serbs we meant business.  The killing stopped.

Kosovo Milesovich was conducting a genocide.  Again, the US stopped him, and eventually he lost power.  Serbia is a winner out of that, whether it admits it or not.

Usual USAn balderdash; there is lots of evidence that there was no genocide occurring in Kosovo, and the KLA was doing far worse [and still is] to Serbs in Kosovo, than the Serbs were doing to Albanian civilians.  Look it up on the internet for yourself.
What Clinton was doing was followng the USAn game plan of isolating and surrounding Russia, in order to some day invade.

In terms of those killed in Kosovo, you may be correct, but in terms of turning hundreds of thousands out and forcing them to leave, no, your wrong. And do not forget the nice stuff done by Serbs in Bosnia.

It is absurd to think we or anyone else (well, maybe China) would invade Russia.

It is all following a natural progression.  Now NATO is talking about energy security.  What exactly are they going to do about it?  The only thing they can do is to plan an invasion of Russia.  This club is lead by the same clowns that thought Iraq and Afghanistan would be a cakewalk.  Hitler and Napoleon exhibited the same sort pathological arrogance.
You've lost the plot.

Russia has the second largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.  No one is going to be invading Russia.

It is also a major centre for European investment, and a European country.  And by the by, it has a falling population (whose billionaires all seem to live in London).

Invade Russia?

You never had a plot to start with.

NATO is busy setting up bases encircling Russia and preparing to deploy so-called ABMs (easily nuclear tipped) in these same bases.  During the Reagan era there was lots of talk about being able to win a nuclear war with the right sort of "shield".  Clearly this scheming is ongoing and reaching the deployment stage.

To be clear Russia will be invaded only after it is nuked off the map.  The hope by western degenerates like Bush, Blair and co. is that they won't get nuked off the map at the same time.
Delusions of grandeur by arrogant morons.

Why the hell would we worry about Russia now?

They have gas, they'll sell it to us.

We'll invest, and the consumer markets will be useful to us.  But the population is falling: Russia will never be a significant player.  Think of it as a slightly bigger Canada.

Worry about Central Asia (political instability, demographics, environmental collapse) and about China, and the Maghrib and Africa (see Central Asia).  The population flows into Europe could be dramatic.

But Russia?  They can't seem to become a state governed by rule of law: hence Polonium on the streets of London.  But it's another European country, full of Europeans.

1. OK so you are accepting that the Bosnian Serbs and their Serbian allies massacred thousands in Bosnia?

Ergo our intervention was justified, to stop that slaughter?

2. on Kosovo, the Serbians set out to systematically 'ethnically cleanse' Kosovo.

I don't defend the KLA, but the previous (Kossovar) President of Kosovo was a pacifist.  The Serbians methodically undercut him and blocked him, creating the opportunity for radicalisation.

Beware talking to Serbians.  It's not accepted in Serbia that Srebenica was a massacre.  Yet UN authorities have identified at least 7,000 people were killed.

Serbian news media just don't cover this stuff.  They paint themselves as innocent victims of American aggression.

Serbia's natural ally in Europe is France.  It's ridiculous to believe that the actions on Serbia had anything to do with 'isolating' Russia.  If we wanted to 'get' Russia, we would have done something about Chechnya.

Your 7,000 figure is pure fluff.  The "massacre" at Srebrenica was of 4,000 combatants.  A similar number died in action as they were breaking out to BiH controlled territory.  The women and children were put on buses and sent to BiH controlled territory.  Hardly the genocide it is painted to be.  Actually if Srebrenica is genocide then so is the massacre of 20,000 fleeing Iraqi soldiers fleeing Kuwait.

As for ethnic cleansing, Nasir Oric, the commander of BiH forces in Srebrenica used the the safe haven to stage raids on adjacent Serb villages to slaughter and drive out their inhabitants.  If you are going to talk about ethnic cleansing then you have to count all of the victims and not just your favourite ethnic proxy.  

Kosovo is another example of selective concern and outright misrepresentation of the facts.  The refugee flows started when NATO started its attack in coordination with the KLA.  While CNN, etc, were busy showing you the refugees fleeing into Macedonia they couldn't be bothered to show you the refugees fleeing into Serbia.  You know, war does tend to produce refugees.   Also, all of the moral outrage and interventionism by NATO disappeared without a trace when the KLA ethnically cleansed Kosovo of 240,000 Serbs, Roma, Gorans, Jews and Turks.

Per the Dutch soldiers who watched, all male CIVILIANS above puberty were selected out.  All were subsequently massacred in a TERRIBLE war crime.

Serbia was on a genocide not seen in Europe since the Nazis, worse even that the 1956 suppression in Hungary.

I am ashamed of many things the US has done, but I am proud of our intervention (and bombing) in Serbia.  Bad to prevent far worse !


Oh God you've drunk the coolaid.

It was the worst massacre in Europe in the postwar era.

We have the witnesses, and the bodies.

Discern any difference whatsoever between the OSCE negotiated Lisbon Accords and the Dayton Accords. Then tell me why years of war had to intervene.
Tell me about the role of William Walker ( As in George Walker Bush or George Herbert Walker Bush) in torpedoing Lisbon or in certifying that Kosovo was a humanitarian disaster.
I don't have to like Milosevich to think Clinton was a patsy..
Years of war intervened because the ceasefire didn't hold.

The Bosnian Serbs, backed by Serbia, launched a war, which they were winning.


There must have been some reason Clinton got a boulevard named after him in Pristina.

Pandering to the Albanians. Sending billions in straight slush money, unlimited supplies of weaponry to the new thug on the block. Maintaining an enormous military base occupying a good part of the land mass of Kosovo. That'll get a street named after you.
I would much rather be down on Earl Lavon Freeman Way. Late Tuesday night.
Artists versus reality. Ineresting choice.
Art and reality. Not propaganda and fantasies. The account you and ValueThinker have of the Balkans can only hold up if everything but Time and Newsweek - official propaganda - is shoved straight down the memory hole.
A very real one.

The Serbians had set out to expel all the Kosovars from Kosovo-- they were literally destroying every home there was.  NATO stopped them.

This was Milesovich.  He didn't care which war crimes he committed, and which war criminals he used.  It was all about power, and preserving 'greater Serbia' even in areas where the majority was not Serbian.

Every peaceful initiative for autonomy and independence of Kosovo had been blocked.  The pacifist president was encircled and stripped of power.  So the KLA became more active.

Cue to Plan B: expel the Kosovars.

Every home!? Really.  I didn't see this on CNN.  It is quite interesting when combatants in Palestine fight in residential areas, Human Rights Watch is at pains to point out that this is a violation of the Geneva conventions.  But HRW never bothered to show this concern when the KLA did the exact same thing in Kosovo.

BTW, all of the property damage started only after NATO jets started bombing runs on Serbia in a coordinated attack together with the KLA.  If "every home" was being destroyed then there would be nothing standing in Pristina and elsewhere.   In fact it was NATO that bombed the water and sewage treatment plants in Pristina reducing the habitablity of the city and a fresh wave of refugees (quite a few did not flee initially).

Nuclear war with Russia using ABMs (which don't work, and never will).

Naked aggression against defenceless Serbs.

A bit of Pan-Slavism squire?

Alexander for Tsar?

I don't agree the scenario is unlikely.

except Expat overestimates the ability of the Iranians to close the Gulf.

In the short run, the Iranians can play havoc with US supply lines in Iraq (but supplies can, and will, get through).  And the USN and USAF can destroy the Iranian naval installations.  This has been wargamed since 1979-- they know what to do and how to do it.

Where the problem comes is later.  The strategic position of the US is then diabolical:

  • every moslem on the planet will think the US is pursuing a holy war against moslems

  • for the first time since about 710AD, the entire moslem world will be united in one cause

  • Shiites predominate in Bahrein and in the oil producing regions of Saudi Arabia

  • Iran has the most sophisticated intelligence agency in the Middle East (bar the Mossad, even).  You think they haven't been preparing for this showdown for 26 years?

If a handful of Sadaam Ba'athists proved to be too hard a nut to crack, how will we cope with thousands of Iranian operatives and agents operating across the whole planet?

Think about shopping malls, chemical plants, Americans outside the USA... think about chemical and bacteriological attacks.  I could name places where 10 guys with Kalashnikovs (which you can buy over the counter in some US states) could do a lot of harm... but I won't, here.  (hint: it's already been done before)

London is facing Polonium contamination this week: noticed no one has dared call it a 'dirty bomb'?  But that is, in fact, what the murderers of Litvenko have done.

The first round will go (surprisingly) easily for the USA.  The second and later rounds will be a different matter. 10 years from now, it will be the streets of New York (or some less obvious target).

Iran is a nation of 70 million or so people, over 2/3rds persian.  They have a 2500 year history as a nation, and a brand of Islam which celebrates martyrdom.

Given the general competence of the USAn military I believe that the world will be surprised by its performance against Iran.  Losses of dozens of planes, and ships is likely.
Of course ships and planes will be lost.

But not dozens.  The Iranian air defence system isn't in that great shape (although it will pull some surprises).

The bigger problem is geography: a huge country, and the US has relatively limited basing options.

Further, at what point will the KSA military become involved on their fellow Muslims' side?  Their air force is quite large and well equipped, and could do severe damage to the US military in the region.
It seems likely that the personnel are quite aware of the House of Suad's corruption, and potential anti-Islamic slant toward the Western axis of evil [USA. GB, Israel].  
They don't.

The Saudi Air Force is kept flying by western technical experts.  Pull those out, and the planes don't fly.

Google 'Al Yamamah II contract'.  The largest industrial contract in the history of the UK-- all the basing, and most of the fighter planes, of the Saudi Air Force.

In the short run, no one does anything, much.  It's the long run that is a worry.


Your right about the radioactive poison. There has only been murmering about it and what it means in the mainstream press.

Muslims would be pissed. Ironic since we were saving them in Kosovo.

Hell, we were employing Al Qaeda in Kosovo. They were our thugs then.
there seems to be only a few here, maybe 7, who realize this
Does anyone know what the CIA has been up to lately with regard to peak oil?  I did a cursory search and the best I could come up with was a From The Wilderness article which appears to have been published in 2004.

Smoking Gun: The CIA's Interest in Peak Oil, by Richard Heinberg

The article discusses a CIA document called The Impending Soviet Oil Crisis (ER 77-10147), published in 1977 and declassified in 2001. It is available at http://www.foia.cia.gov by typing in ER 77-10147 in the search box.

Other than the stuff James Woolsey (former CIA director) is doing at the National Commission on Energy Policy, I don't know of any recent CIA peak oil activity.

There is certainly a thesis that the fall in the oil price brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union, as they no longer had a bargaining chip to trade with the world and to subsidise their empire.
Interesting to me that Daniel Yergin knows exactly what the strategic military implications of oil supplies are and his organization, CERA, is touting the fact that we have plenty.

This sort of diffuses any arguments over "the war is for oil."  

It is much easier to rally a nation to:

"We are good guys and need to go kill nasty bad guys over there who are threatening us.  Oh, yeah, we are also going to spread democracy."


"We are dependent upon a non-renewable resource that we can't get enough of domestically and so need to secure it militarily.  Therefore, let's go invade the oil supply heartland and build 14 permanent bases there."  

CERA is the perfect group for both knowing that the second is true, while making sure the first is believable.

Either that or Daniel Yergin is delusional.

I don't know how it affects efficiency, but they are trying coal to liquid as well.


Worthy of note that they are talking about biodiesel and not ethanol.
Because ethanol has several very practical disadvantages, not because of any EROEI concerns. These disadvantages range from soldiers drinking it to fire - ethanol is exceedingly hard to notice when it first burns, which is one reason it is not commonly used as a fuel in various household settings.
Energy density is about half gasoline too.
ethanol in its current form has denaturants added   ,which can kill you,  presumable for the purpose of keeping farm youth from taking a swig off the old john deere fuel tank
Fuel isn't the whole story, of course.  I wonder how much energy it takes to manufacture military gear?

The cover story of the McPaper today:

Wars wearing down military gear at cost of about $2 billion a month

It's an interesting question, and I'm sure that someone somewhere has taken a crack at estimating the energy content of all our military vehicles, aircraft, and naval vessels. Such an estimate shouldn't be all that difficult to do once one has figures on what tonnage of tanks, planes, and ships have been produced over say the last five years.

I'm sure the total energy content of our military hardware is hardly insignificant, as steel, aluminum, and plastics all have a relatively high energy content. No doubt there's quite a few BTUs invested in a thousand Abrams tanks at 60+tons each, not to mention a dozen 90,000-ton aircraft carriers.

I'd also venture that there is a comparable amount of energy invested in the building and maintenance of US military installations both domestic and overseas.

In spite of these public pronouncement by the DOD that it is interested in energy efficiency, I find it hard to believe that it is really taken all that seriously at the operational level. Particularly when top brass are in the habit of using giant C-5 transports as their personal limousine service. It's the same old principle at work: it's always easy to spend someone else's money.

Guns vs. butter again.  Germany had to choose between using scarce nitrogen to grow food or make gunpowder.  I could foresee a future where we're forced to choose between using scarce petroleum to make missiles or solar panels.

I don't think the solar panels are going to win.

Or choosing between eating the corn or burning it?
And horses, the farm tractors of the early 1900s.

I don't think many people realize that one of the reasons Germany lost WWI was that Germany was starving. Cut off from oversea food exporters by the blockading British fleet, much of the male population at the front or involved in war production (or dead, as time went on), the end of four years of bloody stalemate was becoming foreseeable in the protruding ribs of the women and children of the German working classes.

Europeans know all about war, and not because they watch Hollywood movies. I find it bizarre that so many Americans seem to feel that the current European attitudes to be somehow out of sync with the real world that Americans alone recognize - eternal war for eternal peace, in Gore Vidal's phrase. Someday, maybe sooner than they think, Americans will learn what Europeans know about war.

Then, who knows, Americans may wish for another alternative, however imperfect, smarmily hypocritical, or self-serving. Of course, by then, it will be far too late. We reap what we sow, after all.

C-17s are the a/c of choice.  More agile when a heat seeking missile is launched I heard.  More modern and more fuel efficent (by a bit).


But if the USAF had bought Boeings, militarised, instead, it would have been able to buy far more of the beasts.  Something like twice as many for the money (and the costs of ownership would have been lower, since the parts and training is so ubiquitous).

They tweaked the procurement to make sure a militarised 747 couldn't fulfill the requirements.  At that time, McDonnell Douglas was a separate company.

Also McD makes the C17 in Georgia, I believe, and Senator Sam Nunn was the ranking Democrat on all the key Defence Committees.

Such is politics....

Either way the C17 have proven to be a good airlifter that can handle much worse airfields then a militarised 747 and that is  important for combat operations.

I dont understand why you soon will be closing down the C17 production line when you aspire on being a global power indefinately.

You almost sold a pair of C17:s to Sweden but they are unfortunately too expensive for us. But the might be very intresting in a few years if the restructuring of our military goes well. Do you want to trade C17:s for very fuel efficient Gripen fighters? ;-)

Actually I think that is a political threat.

Congress habitually restores production programmes which the Pentagon deletes.

It's a way of SecDef telling Congress he needs more money.

Once the C17 was created, then the marginal cost of building more is much closer to the cost of building the Boeing.  The original choice was flawed, but that is a sunk cost.

The C-17 is made in Long Beach.  You are thinking of LockMart. in Georgia.

Rumsfield killed the C-17 to help pay for Iraq.  I think the production run ends at 222.  Quite a bit of airlift.

The C-17 fills both a tactical & strategic role, the 747 (better yet 777-200F mix with 747F) would fill a strategic role only.

Hopefully, Sweden will be wise enough to not buy the A400M.

Best Hopes, Alan

The C-17 has worked well, the smaller A400M has not yet flown. A400M might prove to be a good aeroplane.

Another option for strategic airlift is Antonov An-124 but I dont expect USA to buy an Ukrainan ex Soviet aircraft. I have heard rumours that An-124 is not as good at short field performance as C-17.

I have heard rumours that An-124 is not as good at short field performance as C-17.

Why resort to rumours?


Note that you're comparing apples and oranges to some degree; the An-124-100M has a maximum payload of 150 tonnes, a C-17: 77.5 tonnes.

Short field performance depends a lot on weight - I'm sure you can get an empty An-124 with one hour of fuel up in the air in no time. :-)

As for a "militarized 747" - I think a low wing aircraft with under-wing engines is a non-starter for "unprepared fields".  I don't think it's a coincidence that all these military airlifters are high-wing.

Of course, there's more to it than merely the technical specs. In the West, aircraft are all maintained to pretty much the same standards, so one 747 (or civilian C-130) is much like another.

With the An-124, however, maintenance was iffy for some, and hence, although HeavyLift Air Cargo had a contract to fly some of them (and hence provide a means for the western nations to spot hire one), it was not OK to take whatever one HAC could provide. (Some of the possibles would not even be given a Certificate of Airworthiness for the UK!)

Those in the know used to take notes of the tail serial numbers, and only spot hire if one of the "known" aircraft was available.

Creating a whole fleet of An-124 would effectively mean building a maintenance facility which could be properly monitored. By which time, cost savings from having large cheap aircraft would have evaporated.

I'm sure the total energy content of our military hardware is hardly insignificant

I'd take a broader view, and say that if the military budget is X % of the US GDP, then the military is using up about X % of the US energy.  After all, the many many people working to make those tanks and ships are not (for now) working as volunteers.  Thus all of their food, clothing, shelter, SUVs and cable TV is part of the military's energy basis.

Waging war has always been about having the financial resources to undertake the operation. The opposite end of the spectrum financially is called insurgency, resistance, guerilla action -take your pick.

...and can someone tell me why the US Army needs fuel that is good down to -50 degrees in the middle east? It isnt exactly the outskirts of Moscow is it...


I think that is the spec for the JP-8 jet fuel replacement. It's cold way up there in the wild blue yonder.
It is for logistics simplicity. Planes, ships, tanks and other heavy mechanized equipment, generators and other support equipment can all use JP-8. However, they can also operate in a wide range of environments. It is far easier to deal with one fuel that meets the requirements for the most demanding situations such as flight at high altitudes and operations in extreme cold temperatures. The DoD fuel logistics folks used to JP-4, JP-5, JP-8, standard diesel and DFA (diesel fuel, arctic) and then had to make sure the right fuel was in the right place at the right time.  

Interestingly, a 2004 technical paper from SAE proposing the use of solid oxide fuel cells includes the following:

"With fuel costing several hundred dollars per gallon as deployed on the battlefield ..."


"As General Paul Kern, of the U.S. Army, stated at the 2003 SAE World Congress, 2/3 of the Army's vehicles deliver fuel to the other 1/3 in the battlefield, with 65% of the fuel consumed in the battlefield theater used to transport fuel to the battlefield."


The Russians studied 'the Operational Art' very intensely, and configured their forces around it (roughly the brigade to corps level, and the business of executing strategy).

Western powers typically neglected it.

This is all part of a historical narrative that forgets just how good the Russian Army was by 1945, and that it broke the back of the Germany Wehrmacht (and it wasn't just by human wave assaults: they were imaginative users of maneouvre, concentrated artillery and encirclement).

The US Army's addiction to fuel is about restricting its operational capability, a neglect of the operational art.

Using the same fuel for all situations is ridiculous.  If they used simple diesel engines, they could scavenge fuel from many common oils if necessary.  JP-80 is over  kill for ground or naval use, and nobody fights wars in extreme cold as Hitler found out after leaving Paulus' army at Stalingrad for the winter.  Another proof that the model for oxymorons is military intelligence.  
No it's logistic sense.

The US Army has learned the hard way not to prejudge where it might have to fight.

Korea was completely unexpected.  And it's as cold in the Korean peninsula in winter as it is in the Ukraine.

This military logic is the main reason Head for the Hills scenarios, such as LATOC etc, don't make any sense, isn't it? Because there won't be any hills - without a military requisition officer standing on them. It's the reason the hippies should *really* fear peak oil, rather than halfway welcoming it. The capacity for the military in an industrial state to take over all aspects of life during a collapse, in this case a permanent collapse - that's *1984* isn't it?
You could be right.  Maybe Ecotopia will rise out of the ruins eventually, but I suspect we'll look more like North Korea first. Feed the army, whatever it takes, and thereby maintain national sovereginty...and government control of the population.
hush, i'm in the middle of re-reading 1984   the thought police will come to get you   the best term i have come across so far is duckspeak    a quacking mouthpiece for big brother
What is your take on the poisoned ex KBG reporter?  Wife feels they would have chosen something more discrete, I think it was chosen for effect.  You?
Too early to say for sure, but I lean toward your position.  It's not like they haven't committed flamboyant assassinations before.  
Yergin's book "The Prize" is probably one of the best books ever written on the subject - even though it's some ten years old, it's still important today. Anyone who hasn't read it should.

With regard to Fischer Tropsch - this method has been used since about WWI days, but the Germans used the Bergius system during WWII because it was able to produce higher octane than Fischer Tropsch - along the order of 100 octane or so, which is sufficient for aviation fuel.

There was a discussion on this at the petroleum club.

the military having oil to make war is way down on my list of things to worry about  and as long as war is profitable we will have war   bush says "(I) will not remove our troops from iraq until the "mission is completed"       well it doesnt have to be bush's decision as to whether the "mission is completed" or not  the congress, if only they could grow some balls, only needs to pass a resolution that the "mission is completed",   declare that they will not provide funding past xx/xx/2006 (or whenever the latest $80billion runs out) and we can bring the troops home  end of story  write your congressman now  right freakin NOW
Elwood, do you have a list of Congressmen that can read and write? My Congressman, Ron Paul, MD can read, but could probably/undoubtedly benefit from antipsychotics. He's a Republican who used to perform abortions and was one of the three members to vote against the Iraq resolution. Thats because he's really a Libertarian in drag. He's so insignificant that Tom DeLay changed his district to make him more vulnerable and no one bothers to bribe him. He does have testicles though. But, if its a resolution to stop spending money, he's in.  
no not really , jim leach the republican from iowa's 3 rd district (one of a few republican or democrat who voted against iraq invasion)  was defeated  he wrote the republican party and told them to stop running negative (and false) adds against his opponent  when he lost he told his supporters it was the best day he had in 30 yrs     at least there are (or were) sane politicians
It sounds to me that your congressman Ron Paul is intelligent, learned, and aware.  Why do you disparage him?
paul writes a column occasionally published on kitco (gold and silver)  he is no doubt one of the few in congres with a brain in his head
  Ron Paul is intellegent, learned and a stark raving lunatic. I debated over whether to vote for him because of his position on the Iraq debacle (against from the beginning) and the war on drugs (against, it is a violation of all our civil liberties). But, after being the Libertarian Candidate for President he went to caucusing with the Republicans..
Thus, he tacitly accepted the abrogation of our civil liberties and the Bush/supreme court coup. So I voted for his opponent, Shane Sklar, a conservative democrat.
   Maybe I'm nuts these days, but I am so totally disgusted with our Congress and Courts and the party system fund raising I'm ready to see them all thrown out, hung and buried at a crossroads with a wooden stake through their hearts. I'll settle for just voted out, irrespective of party.

  I had a little hope that things would change after Tricky Dick Nixon was forced to resign. Reagan's victory over sanity really changed it back-now I just despise them all. The Corporatetocracy has just about ruined the planet and has screwed our civil liberties, and I have no good solution

So these days I just try to focus on my own behaviour and live as a simple human being. Except for blogging I mostly keep my frothing at the mouth hidden as they shoot mad dogs. But, I'm voting against all the incumbents I can from here on out.

Many of you are probably already aware of the "conversation on Energy" series being conducted at the Naval Post Graduate School, but in case not...


I have a had a theory for a while...its just a way out theory but in the current environment its hard not to consider.

It goes like this:

US invades IRAQ
Oil production slowly rises, and exports even less.
Lots of "missing" oil
US military using Iraq as its "off the books" petroleum source
US mainland sees reduced imports, due to "not declared" oil consumption/resources claimed by the military.

I know its "whack"...but if it isn't a half bad idea if you are morally challenged(and I think we can think of a few leaders that fall into this category).

And there are probably a few holes in the theory, but I never said it was fully backed up or researched,  but even if it is only getting fuel for all Iraq operations, then it is partially correct.   It does have some merit.

Heck, while I am at it -  next conspiracy thought (no backup...as well, and frankly there won't be)

The US is investing mostly in protecting oil resources in Iraq (not the people) - a given -, last week they announce that the Kirkuk to Turkey oil pipeline is shutdown(toast - due to terrorism no less).   But,  I can't help to wonder if it was "allowed" to happen as punishment(no oil/revenues from loading/pipeline) to Turkey for their "lack" of support at the last minute in the war.

I know, I know...Enough...

It's all about population!

Sometimes, paranoia can make a lot of sense.

We stole a whole continent once.. what's a few barrels of oil?

What is the name of the video series based on "The Prize" and where do you purchase it?
Try here:

The Prize movie at amazon.com

Commanding Heights movie at amazon.com

Also at PBS (WGBH-Boston):

Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy

Click on "Order Video/Book" for ordering information.

Folks, consider this a reminder to positively rate these articles (using the icons under the tags in the story title) at reddit, digg, and del.icio.us if you are so inclined.  Also, don't forget to submit them to your favorite link farms, such as metafilter, stumbleupon, slashdot, fark, boingboing, furl, or any of the others.

These posts are a lot of work, and the authors appreciate your helping them get more readers for their work however you can!

Thanks for these reminders.  I'm not sure how other sites work, but Digg requires one to choose a rubric under which each submission will be filed.  Are I usually choose Business/Finance (althought I put this one under Political News).  What say ye(s)?
Since 1974 when we discovered oil was a limited resource, we've spent well over 10 trillion dollars on the military to try and secure the world's remaining oil sources. We've spent about 100 billion on non-nuclear, non-fossil fuel development.

Today's Los Angeles Times has a good piece:

Congressional and military officials have said the Pentagon is considering a request of $127 billion to $150 billion in new emergency war spending, the largest such request since the special spending measures were begun in 2001. So far, Congress has allocated $495 billion for Afghanistan, Iraq and terrorism-related efforts.

Increasingly the question for America isn't if we will change our ways before peak, but whether we'll bankrupt ourselves before peak.

The tragedy is that $500bn invested in fuel effiency, conservation and new energy technologies would have a huge impact on the energy security of the United States.

But there is no 'military industrial complex' equivalent for alternative energy.

Need for oil

The 1945-1955 period war plans, e.g. Half Moon, as declassified all identify oil as something that cannot be obtained in adequate quantities in the US and that had to be obtained from the Middle East.  The Middle East was the place that had to be defended against a Russian invasion, in these plans, without which the war was not obviously winnable.  In contrast, the loss of continental Europe was assumed, and was viewed as not being a disaster.

This is a bit different than later perspectives.

The next generation of Swedish armoured wehicels will be a hybrid wehicle with payload modules for different roles.



up until now,both halves of the military-industrial complex have been together on every issue.  Now, however, the military is slowly becoming aware that military style vehicles used for civilian use - eg hummers - compete directly with their own vehicles.  We will soon see the military supporting cafe standards and other approaches that will reduce civiiian fuel consumption.  Who is more powerful - the military plus the jap transplants and environmentalists on one side vs. the big 3?
Excellent points. Who can possibly guess the outcome?
This is a little off topic but there is an article over at Counterpunch about 9/11 that seems to me deeply flawed. For example, the author claims an impact delay of 0.01 seconds per floor without any justification. Since he is just tossing the figure out there, why not 0.025, or .05 or 0.1 seconds? Why not 1 second? That would give a collapse time of 87 seconds. In addition he says that the dynamic force of the collapse was 6 times the weight load. Presumably the columns at the bottom were the same size as the columns at the top. The columns at the bottom support ten times the load as the columns at the top, yet obviously they do not fail. And this is a physicist from Livermore lab no less. So does anyone have a reasonble conjecture of what the impact delay per floor would be that is not based on mere assertion?
What collapsed on the 9th of November?
and I really like your rant up top
For example, the author claims an impact delay of 0.01 seconds per floor without any justification.

Well, that's not true, the justification he gives is

Impact is a very brief process

With just the tiniest amount of research, I discover that the impact time for a tennis ball on a racquet is 5-8 ms. A hard object like a golf ball is just 0.5 ms. So his 10ms figure is generous, and not unreasonable. 1 second is clearly absurd!

You correctly state the lower part of the building has to support a higher static load, and was indeed stonger (by using thicker steel, I believe). However, you fail to account that the falling mass is still 6 times the static load at that level. i.e. floor 10 supports 100 floors above, floor 100 supports 10 floors. 10 floors falling create a load equivalent of 60, and the falling 100 floors create a load the equivalent of 600.

I see nothing in the Counterpunch article (The Physics of 9/11) that is "deeply flawed".

what is your basis for saying the columns at the bottom are the same as those at the top? this is not standard building design.
and, note that impact load is constantly increasing as the number of floors moving down increases.
A couple of comments:

Re: War: "Amateurs talk tactics. Professionals talk logistics."

The deal with logistics is that it is a function of an entire economy. The U.S. and Soviets won WWII because their economies were bigger than that of Germany even after Germany conquered most of Europe.

You cannot ignore the economy and still remain a major world power. If your economy cannot function due to lack of fuel, you cannot manufacture advanced weapons, feed your population, or fully train and equip a first-class military. An example is North Korea, which  is suffering staggering fuel shortages and resulting impacts to its military. Its vaunted "million-man army" spends most of its time in the fields planting and harvesting crops, not training for combat. Their equipment is old, largely does not work if it's more complicated than an AK-47 or an artillery tube, and largely dates back to the Korean War era (1950's). Even the South Korean reservists are better trained and equipped than North Korea's regular army, and South Korea's regular military is equipped with excellent modern military technology. Its nuclear weapons program is using 1940's technology, and its missile program is using 1960's technology augmented by significant imports of inputs not available within their economy, imports largely funded by selling their missile technology overseas. If South Korea invaded North Korea today, it would not take more than a few weeks for them to utterly defeat the North Korean regime. The South Koreans do not do this because the result would be horrifying expensive in terms of both money and human life (Seoul would be reduced to rubble in the early minutes of the conflict by North Korean artillery, for example, with corresponding loss of billions of dollars in infrastructure and thousands of lives) and the costs of bringing North Korea's economy up to the level of South Korea's would be staggering, not because they lack the capability.

Complete focus upon the military, while ignoring the economic infrastructure needed to maintain it, has been the downfall of many an empire. It appears that the American Empire might be added to this list in the future. Focusing only upon the energy needs of the military, without regarding the energy needs of the economy that supports said military, is thus short-sighted and something that only amateurs would engage in. Fact of the matter is that if the military has problems obtaining conventional fuels, the economy as a whole likely also has the same problem -- and because the U.S. has an oil-based economy (every single ounce of freight in the U.S. is shipped using oil, and large-scale transfer of freight is needed to keep the economy functioning due to the interconnectedness of a modern economy), assuring a fuel supply for the military while not assuring a fuel supply for the economy as a whole has absolutely no long-term strategic value and only limited short-term tactical value, since even the most fundamental of activities engaged in by the military such as providing food and ammunition for its soldiers require significant economic inputs outside the scope of immediate military operational needs.

- Badtux the Energy Penguin

If South Korea invaded North Korea today, it would not take more than a few weeks for them to utterly defeat the North Korean regime.

You make a good general point, backed up by a very poor example. In fact you are probably quite wrong about this. North Korean military personnel have shown repeatedly that they are tough opponents and do not surrender easily. You may also be badly underestimating DPRK industrial capacity. The DPRK wasn't a peasant nation - during the Japanese occupation, most of the industry was located in the North, and it was the south that was agricultural. The DPRK actually stayed ahead of ROK in industrial development terms until surprisingly late, and was better off than China until comparatively recently. Admittedly, the last decade has not been kind to them. But it is a mistake to think the DPRK is some sort of starving, pushover bunch of peasants.

The South Koreans do not do this because the result would be horrifying expensive in terms of both money and human life (Seoul would be reduced to rubble in the early minutes of the conflict by North Korean artillery, for example, with corresponding loss of billions of dollars in infrastructure and thousands of lives)

Yes - or in other words, they do not attack North Korea because they would actually lose on a strategic level, and quickly. What good would it do to 'defeat' the Northern regime if the cost was the destruction of Seoul and hence of a vital part of the South Korean economy?

The DPRK seems about the worst case you could pick to support your thesis, which would otherwise be sound.

I'll agree with your take.

PRNK is the most heavily fortified society in the world.  They have been planning for a resumption of the Korean War (which neverly formally cessated: there is no peace treaty) for 53 years.

They've also methodically analysed strengths and weaknesses of the US and its allies.

So they won't expect to have air superiority, won't expect to fight a mobile war.

But as the Israelis just found in South Lebanon, just because you can kill the guy from the air doesn't mean you can take him on the ground.

The Israelis took heavy losses fighting their way into a few key strategic villages: each house was a fortified point, with bomb shelters underneath, linked by tunnels.

Israeli tanks were picked off by latest model antitank missiles.

Every village, every town, every hamlet in North Korea will be like that: with 50 years of training and preparation for their defence.  Every line of approach a mine field.  And defended both by regular forces and militia who have been completely indoctrinated since birth that this war was coming.

It would be like Iwo Jima and Okinawa, only 100 fold.

Seoul, a city of 10 million people, would be devastated in the early days (worse, much worse, if they use poison gas).  But the actual fall of North Korea could take months or even years.

Saying the impact is a very brief process is a mere asertion not a scientifically based statement. It could be much less or much more. If the columns can sustain ten times their load with a safety factor of 1.5 they should be able to sustain an impact of 6 times the static load. You are engaged in the same sort of mere assertion as the author. What is a scientically accurate estimate of the impact delay?