Why An Iraq War Veteran Fights The Green Fight

He said in the field of operations it also had a significant impact. The military sustains a high volume of casualties from fuel being brought in on convoys—for every 50 convoys brought in a soldier is killed or wounded, according to some reports.

Jon Gensler

Image via Jon Gensler

If bases in the field were able to run entirely off renewables then this would negate the need for these risky fuel convoys.

The military has already begun experimenting with portable solar equipment in Afghanistan. The marines there have begun trialling silvery tent liners that increase the efficiency of heaters or air conditioners. Also in use are portable solar-panel blankets, able to power communications gear for a patrol, which means carrying far fewer heavy batteries. One base even features a small shipping container connected to a bank of solar panels that is powering flat screens and surveillance equipment.

As part of this week’s announcement the army unveiled a new 32,000-square-foot laboratory in Warren, just north of Detroit that can simulate Afghanistan’s desert heat and Antarctica’s extreme cold in an effort to discover how to save energy and make combat vehicles fuel-efficient.

“To be honest, your average marine isn’t going to care too much if the tank he’s riding is pumping out CO2, but he is going feel the benefit when the pack he’s carrying weighs 20 pounds less because he’s got a solar charger in there instead of a big heavy battery pack,” he said.

“Energy security is one of the biggest issues we face and the more we embrace renewables, the safer and more secure we’ll be,” Gensler added.


Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.

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