Fueling Afghanistan

For a long time now I’ve been saying that the biggest problem facing our forces in Afghanistan isn’t the absence of a viable partner in the Afghan government or whether we should be pursuing a strategy of counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency or the tactics we’re employing there. It’s the logistics. Here’s another example of that. Would you believe that the fully burdened cost of gasoline in Afghanistan is $400 a gallon?

The Pentagon pays an average of $400 to put a gallon of fuel into a combat vehicle or aircraft in Afghanistan.

The statistic is likely to play into the escalating debate in Congress over the cost of a war that entered its ninth year last week.

Pentagon officials have told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee a gallon of fuel costs the military about $400 by the time it arrives in the remote locations in Afghanistan where U.S. troops operate.

Our way of waging war is fuel intensive and the more soldiers we have in Afghanistan the more fuel we’ll need there.

The fully burdened cost of fuel accounts for the cost of transporting it to where it is needed, said Kevin Geiss, program director for energy security in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment.

And moving fuel by convoy or even airlift is expensive, according to the Army news release from July 16, which quoted Geiss. In some places, Geiss said, analysts have estimated the fully burdened cost of fuel might even be as high as $1,000 per gallon.

As I pointed out some time ago in a lengthy post at my blog (which I’m too lazy to find the link for right now), we’re spending significantly more per soldier in Afghanistan than we have in Iraq and, essentially, there are no economies of scale. The more soldiers we have in Afghanistan the more it will cost. The fully burdened cost of fuel is a good part of that.

Afghanistan is landlocked and the only practical choices for bringing supplies into the country are overland through Pakistan which has become increasingly dangerous or by air which is fabulously expensive. Overland through Iran seems to be out.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    A possible solution is exploiting Afghanistan natural resources which include oil and natural gas. Oil wells would be the hardest ones to secure but could be done. With a little rush we could drill wells and create a small refinery in a few years. This would have multiple benefits which include local procurement for our military and more importantly local economic improvement.