Honor Troops with Renewable Energy

John Davis

arlington1Today is a day when the nation pauses to remember those who have given their all to keep this country free. This opinion piece in the News & Observer from North Carolina features the words of Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 36 years and says if we want to truly honor vets and those who died in wars, do what we can to cut down on the amount of fuel convoys on the battlefield and the amount of fossil fuels consumed at home.

In recent conflicts, fuel convoys have been among our enemies’ favorite targets. Transporting fuel to bases and troops in war zones has become an especially dangerous job.

As a commander in Iraq, I witnessed firsthand the toll in casualties imposed by our battlefield dependence on oil. And with other members of the CNA’s Military Advisory Board, a panel of retired three- and four-star generals and admirals, I have studied the intersection of energy and national security on a wider scale.

CNA’s Military Advisory Board has found that America’s over-dependence on fossil fuels makes us vulnerable on the battlefield. It is a national security threat – economically, militarily and diplomatically. Our oil dependence weakens us, constraining our options for action on the world stage and causing us to send money to regimes whose interests don’t always dovetail with ours.

There are also financial penalties attached to our armed forces’ dependence on fossil fuels. Every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil means a $1.3 billion increase in operating costs for the Pentagon. And the military allocates a tremendous amount of resources to ensuring the freedom of movement of oil shipments – an estimated $8 trillion protecting oil cargoes in the Persian Gulf since 1976, a 2010 study found.

The general goes on to point out that if troops on the battlefields are finding ways of using more renewable energy, then the folks back home should be able to do the same.

If our men and women in uniform can incorporate efficiency and renewable energy into their dangerous jobs, surely the rest of us can do our part on the homefront.