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Thread: Military Fuel Consumption

  1. #1
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    Default Military Fuel Consumption

    I'm in the early stages of a project on how the military uses fuel, and how that shapes the force and the way they fight.

    I first became interested in the project after I read a pair of reports by the Defense Science Board. Collectively, they argue that fuel isn't only a tremendous cost for the military, but also a logistical burden, since 50% of the Army is logistics and 70% of what they carry by weight is JP8.

    The argument, of course, is that reducing fuel consumption in end use (MFE units) has a disporportionate effect on support units, especially as as much as half of the fuel used in theater is used to deliver more fuel.

    In other words, reducing fuel consumption (without sacrificing other performance) may be a way to sharpen the tooth to tail ratio.

    I'd welcome any assistance or guidance that any of you can give on these topics, as well as the single fuel concept, the burdened cost of fuel, future vehicle design etc, or anything else that you may find salient.

    I'll be building a bibliography today and perhaps I can add that to this thread later, if anyone is interested.

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    Lemme know if you didn't get an email from me.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Reaching back to 1977

    The only book I have on logistics and excellent when read now thirty years ago is Martin Van Creveld's Supplying War; Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton (Pub. Cambridge University Press 1977). Might provide some context for you.

    davidbfpo

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    shloky, reply sent via email.

    david, I will look into that. Thank you.

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    Default Posting this into Amazon

    seems to generate some "hits" (via the "If you like this, you might also like" feature):

    Lifeblood of War: Logistics in Armed Conflict (Paperback)
    http://www.amazon.com/Lifeblood-War-.../dp/0080417760

    Thanks
    Jeff

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    I said that I would come back with resources as I gathered them. So here I will begin to add some in case anyone would like to look into this as well.

    Department of Defense Energy Strategy. Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks.

    DoD Energy Security Task Force.

    More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden.

    More Fight - Less Fuel.

    And perhaps the most interesting piece, from a visceral level:

    Army Energy Security "The Way Ahead"

    It contains a note with the following information:

    Fuel deliveries to FOBs in millions of gallons: 431
    Fuel trucks needed: 140,075
    Convoys needed: 9,332
    Soldiers per convoy: 120
    Soldier trips: 644,360
    Soldier trip reduction per 1% JP8 savings: 6444

    As you can see, reducing consumption has operational benefits, not including the fact that some 50% of fuel used in theater is used to move fuel in theater. This means that end use (FOB generators and tactical vehicle) fuel savings are multiplied as the second and third order effects reduce the logistical burden across the military.

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    Hmm. Didn't make it through the tubes. Refire or PM?

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    Default Have you thought about reading

    official histories of, say, Desert Storm, or OIF I, and then trying to extrapolate fuel requirements from them? I think, also, OIF I's official history has a footnote on the Red Ball Express (I think Van Creveld also references it as an example of diminishing returns at the end of his book on logistics). You might also want to look at Pagonis, "Moving Mountains" (I think that's what it's called).

    Thanks
    Jeff

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffWolf View Post
    official histories of, say, Desert Storm, or OIF I, and then trying to extrapolate fuel requirements from them? I think, also, OIF I's official history has a footnote on the Red Ball Express (I think Van Creveld also references it as an example of diminishing returns at the end of his book on logistics). You might also want to look at Pagonis, "Moving Mountains" (I think that's what it's called).

    Thanks
    Jeff
    Certain Victory devoted a chapter to the logistics end of things for Desert Sheild and Storm you should take a look at it here

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    Jeff, that is an interesting point that I hadn't thought to consider. I appreciate that you said it.

    There was an interesting graph of the range of an M1 tank with and without an Auxiliary Power Unit. The increased range of an APU and perhaps also the more efficient turbine that was part of the Crusader program could have made a difference in rate of advance. The LV100-5 turbine gets 33% better mileage underway and features 50% reduced consumption at idle and has 43% fewer parts, a salient fact when one considers that something like 25% of the Army maintenance budget goes to service the Honeywell AGT 1500 turbine, per the Defense Science Board.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    As you can see, reducing consumption has operational benefits, not including the fact that some 50% of fuel used in theater is used to move fuel in theater. This means that end use (FOB generators and tactical vehicle) fuel savings are multiplied as the second and third order effects reduce the logistical burden across the military.
    Or perhaps the FOBs could make do with fewer deliveries of Doritos, Baskin Robbins, and condoms. I'm glad that I never had to order my Soldiers to risk their lives in order to ensure that some FOB got it's daily delivery of candy bars and Maxim magazines. Could we consolidate into fewer convoys (and thus run fewer convoy security missions) if we did away with non-essentials?

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    Scmedlap, I'm not in the Army (yet) but some of the stories I hear sound rather absurd to me. Units throwing good equipment away so they don't have to take it back while others run the roads to bring things in. Big screen TVs, of course running on electricity that comes from diesel that was run across the roads, again. Units dumping diesel in the desert.

    In fact, last I saw 1% of all cargo shipped in OEF was lost to enemy action. Doesn't sound like much, but it adds up quick.

    But I'll start with something that's a little easier to count. Even though for a long time (I don't know about now) 30% of all cargo carried was bottled water.

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    Default Heh, Well if that means you wiil be at a later date

    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    Scmedlap, I'm not in the Army (yet) but some of the stories I hear sound rather absurd to me.
    Allow me to welcome you on your transition from the absurd to the sublime...
    Units throwing good equipment away so they don't have to take it back...
    Wait until you're told to destroy some seemingly important or expensive stuff because it's cheaper to do that than it is to ship it back to the States. That's pretty much guaranteed to happen...
    ... while others run the roads to bring things in. Big screen TVs, of course running on electricity that comes from diesel that was run across the roads, again. Units dumping diesel in the desert.
    All true and all dedicated to ensure that Joe lives as well overseas (or better) that he does at home.

    As sapperfitz82 said on another thread:
    ""Quite simply, the standard of living at war has never been better, the tours have never been shorter (for this duration a war) and we are still saying “not good enough?” We need a history lesson and the Indian wars of the sub-continent and the American west are in order.""
    Sounds right to me...

    Back to you:
    But I'll start with something that's a little easier to count. Even though for a long time (I don't know about now) 30% of all cargo carried was bottled water.
    That's due in large part to the fact that its cheaper and easier to transport than bulk water -- and to the fact that bulk water in COIN operations frequently is made, er, ummm -- unwholesome is a good word -- by the bad guys when they can get to it -- which is usually. Fortunately, the Germans have found the way ahead LINK.

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    You might want to consider impromtu "oil for food prorgams" condcuted at the local level as well. The increase in tare weight and engine size to accomodate that for our fleet of tactical vehicles, and all the electronics on them (not to mention A/C) which require the vehicle to run to recharge the batts.

    Yeah, big screens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    Units throwing good equipment away so they don't have to take it back while others run the roads to bring things in.
    Worse yet, units are ordered to bring equipment that they have no use for. This was a particularly sore spot for me when I was a company XO. I was ordered to bring the equivalent of half a connex of heavy equipment that we had no use for. I argued it endlessly with my BN XO, going so far as to accuse him of being part of the AIF and deliberately trying to weigh us down with unnecessary garbage (perhaps I went too far with that accusation). But it was absurd. The stuff was transported at great cost (fuel, man hours, random aggravations), stored in a tiny patrol base where space was limited, maintained IAW various TMDE rules (often needing to be sent to a FOB), and accounted for with every sensitive item inventory and/or 10% inventory as appropriate (more wasted man hours). It was incredibly stupid. (But it was on our MTOE! Apparently that makes it important - nevermind that we don't use port firing weapons or TVS-5's).

    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    Even though for a long time (I don't know about now) 30% of all cargo carried was bottled water.
    Bottled water makes a lot of sense. It is a huge timesaver for the guy at the end of the spear, great for sanitation purposes, and even the empty bottles have numerous uses. When we take detainees, part of the fulfillment of our obligations regarding their treatment is to give them a bottle of water - very simple - and we can also hand them out to civilians when appropriate. The only downside to bottled water is that certain folks who are dead set on doing things "the way that it's always been" seem to be nostalgic for filling canteens from a water buffalo. But we can reduce the amount of water needed if leaders simply enforce basic rules....

    - If you open a bottle, drink the whole thing. Don't drink half and then throw it away.
    - Don't use it for laundry or other purposes for which non-potable water would suffice
    - Don't use it for water fights (I saw our FSB doing laundry with bottled water and dumping bottled water on one another in OIF I, when our Infantry BN was drinking water from a filthy water buffalo - there was a brief exchange of unpleasantries)
    - Don't use it to wash your HMMWV (I saw it almost every time that I visited the bizzaro universe known as the FOB)

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    My personal fav was finding 3 sets of Bradley tracks buried on LSA Anaconda by a certain tank battalion that had just left, when we had infantry Bradleys running around short-tracked due to the Bradley track shortage in 2003.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Guy I know after Desert Storm ended

    was told to dispose of by burning a slew of old M5 Aidman's Kit Bags complete with all supplies and drugs. He tried to give 'em away, US units, Saudi units, other folks, got a few takers but he still ended up burning most of them, around 20 IIRC. He was upset; he's older and more cynical but wiser now. My vague recollection is that back in the '70s an M5 Kit cost about a thousand bucks including the Morphine, Dextro-Amphetamine sulfate and other drugs...

    Same guy, in Afghanistan not long ago, decided he wanted and needed a mortar, picked up from K-town a 60 and a 120, carried and used them for a year and then returned 'em to the dump when his unit left. Said there was almost anything one might want laying about. Some things don't change much...

    Todays tales pale into insignificance compared to the amount of rolling stock, engineer equipment, weapons, clothing and so forth just dumped into the Marianas Trench after WW II, literally many dozens of LST loads pushed out the open bow doors and off the ramp by a couple or three D8s at the aft end of the Tank deck -- cheaper than bringing it from all over the Pacific back to CONUS.

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    I am sure Ken has stories dating further back but in the mid-late 70s we still had the monstrosity known as a gamma goat as a medium equipment tow/transport. I had one in my unattended ground sensor platoon that I never used and that was a perpetual maintenance nightmare. It ALWAYS went to the field--26th TA Batttery's motor pool at Corps-- when we had an inspection.

    an S4 in 7th SF Grp was even more resourceful. My Ground Surveillance company commander Benny Wilson had had a Scount platoon in 2-325 before he baecame the S2. he told his Scouts if they placed in the division Scouts competition, he would get them a rough terrain jump and a water jump. They did and the water jump was at Mott Lake. Benny led the 1st stick and he landed close into shore where he stood and watched the last stick member do a stand up landing on the surface of Mott Lake.

    Turns out the 5th Grp S4 had a stock of excess equipment including a gamma goat, NVGs, and an M60 MG. His solution: load it all in the goat and, drive it into Mott Lake, and open the drain cocks (the goat supposedly could swim). according to Benny, the S4 was at CGSC when this was all uncovered. He ended up in Leavenworth as a non-student.

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    Oh man I thought the goats were fun. They were kind of like an articulated weeble. The kids toy... "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down"... Goats broke down, broke, rolled over better than my dog, but they looked cool doing it.
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    Speaking of Goats, best show I ever had was watching one break free of the pallet on a heavy drop and land at a slightly higher velocity than intended, vertically, rather than horizontally, oriented. The second best was seeing a 'dozer have the leading edge of its pallet dig into the ground while being LAPEsed into Sicily DZ at Bragg. The whole thing tipped over, destroying the vehicle in the process.
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