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The Pentagon and oil

by Sarah Meyer
Index Research

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Nick Turse wrote, on Tom Dispatch (17.07.08): “For years, "oil" and "Iraq" couldn't make it into the same sentence in mainstream coverage of the invasion and occupation of that country. Recently, that's begun to change, but "oil" and "the Pentagon" still seldom make the news together. “

SOHBET KARBUZ has been following “Oil” and “the Pentagon” since 1999. Karbuz’ most complete article, US Military Energy Consumption- Facts and Figures, with extensive footnotes, was published in May 2007 on Energy Bulletin.

From this article, we learn that:

  • The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. The American GI is the most energy-consuming soldier ever seen on the field of war. In 2005, The U.S. Navy was the largest diesel fuel user in the world.
  • The DoD's total primary energy consumption in Fiscal Year 2006 was 1100 trillion Btu
  • Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) sold $13 billion of energy to DoD services in FY2006. More than half of it was to Air Force. Oil accounts for more than three-fourths of DoD's total site delivered energy consumption. In terms of fuel types, jet fuel(JP-8) accounts for more than 50% of total DoD energy consumption, and nearly 60% of its mobility fuel. In 2006 Air Force consumed around 2.6 billion gallons of jet-fuel, which is the same amount of fuel U.S. airplanes consumed during WWII (between December 1941 and August 1945).
  • Nearly three quarters of DoD site delivered energy is consumed by vehicles … Only one quarter is consumed in buildings and facilities. According to the DoD's Federal Energy Management Report for FY2006, the DoD spent approximately $3.5 billion on facility energy and $16.5 billion on energy for tactical vehicles. To this we should add 238 million spent on non-tactical vehicles. DoD consumed 97 million gasoline gallons for its non-tactical vehicles and for that it spent 238 million dollars.
  • The fixed costs of defending Persian Gulf oil amounts to $137.8 billion annually.
  • The U.S. military consumed almost 180 million barrels (or 490 thousand barrels per day) of oil in 1985 worldwide. In 2006, its oil consumption was down to 117 million barrels (or 320 thousand barrels per day),[10] despite increasing activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. The discrepancies in these facts are discussed by Karbuz in Fact 7.
  • The US spends about 150 thousand barrels abroad (“pessimist estimate”) per day.
  • Whatever the true figure, oil consumed by the U.S. military does not show up in world oil demand. For more explanation, see under item #425 in October 2004 issue of ASPO Newsletter.
  • Delivery of Fuel: Over 70 percent of the tonnage required to position today's U.S. Army into battle is fuel. The Air Force spends approximately 85 percent of its fuel budget to deliver, by airborne tankers, just 6 percent of its annual jet fuel usage." … Of the top 10 battlefield guzzlers in the U.S. Army, only 2 are combat vehicles (the Abrams tank and the Apache helicopter). The other eight carry fuel and supplies. Over half of the fuel transported to the battlefield is consumed by support vehicles, not vehicles engaged in frontline combat. … The Army has 40,000 troops involved in either the distribution or movement of energy.
  • All Air Force's future aircrafts under procurement (F-22 Raptor, F-35 as well as new aerial refueling tanker KC-X, etc) run on oil. They will remain in service at least until 2030.

From Military Oil Consumption in Afghanistan and Iraq (10.06.07), we learn that:

The DLA supplied more than 2.8 billion gallons of fuel to Operation Iraqi Freedom and more than 2.2 billion gallons of fuel support to Operation Enduring Freedom as of March 2006. This makes more than 5 billion gallons, or more than 119 million barrels of oil. Today 56 000 barrels of oil per day, with a cost of at least $3 million, is consumed by military in Afghanistan and Iraq .

“Unfortunately, total amount of paid and unpaid oil used by the US military in “freedom” operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and its true cost (including delivery) are still a mystery, not helped by the fact that 'The US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan (including the ones identified here) are not counted in the 3,748 military sites listed in the Base Structure Report for Fiscal Year 2005 of the US Department of Defense'.

In Afghanistan

According to the DLA facts (DLA removed link), as of March 2006 “more than 2.2 billion gallons of fuel,” which makes 52 million barrels, was supplied to Afghanistan.

  • On any given day, there are more than 300 trucks, carrying approximately three million gallons of fuel (71429 barrels), en route to military locations downrange. Interesting discussion, with map, of fuel supply lines.
  • In total, the US military consumes roughly 16 kb/d of oil in Afghanistan. Of this amount roughly 2.7 kb/d comes from Turkmenistan, 2.4 kb/d from Uzbekistan and 10.8 kb/d from Pakistan.

In Iraq

According to the DLA facts (DLA removed link) as of March 2006, the US military oil consumption in Iraq was more than 2.8 billion gallons, which makes 67 million barrels. According to Colonel Rohrer, Director of Bulk Fuels, American forces in Iraq use more than 1.3 million gallons (31 kb/d) of fuel each day. According to an Atlantic Monthly article, however, it is 1.7 million gallons of fuel a day (40 kb/d).

“Each of the 150,000 soldiers on the ground consumes roughly nine gallons of fuel a day. And that figure has been rising.” The number of soldiers varies, so figures can be confusing. [see footnotes].
See Fuel Consumption per US Soldier per day (20.04.08). The last news report citing this issue was here. [Military Feels Fuel-Cost Gouge in Iraq in April 2008]

From US Military Oil Use Abroad (27.07.08). we see Karbuz’ estimates which include non-tactical vehicles, i.e., fleet vehicles such as trucks, passenger cars, SUVs etc.

  • Total US military oil consumption went up from 295 kbd in 2000 to 363 kbd in 2007.
  • OCONUS (oil consumed abroad) oil consumption accounted for 50% of total US military oil consumption in 2007, compared to only one-third in the year 2000. The US military oil consumption abroad was 180 kbd in 2007.

See more articles by Sohbet Karbuz:

Privatization of Warfare in Iraq (01.08.07)

More Fight - Less Fuel
(16.02.08). Critique on Defense Science Board Report: “lacks direct and precise answers to what it was asked to deliver.”

DOD and Alternatives to Conventional Oil (12.06.08)

Dr. Sohbet Karbuz currently works for an energy industry association in France. A former official of the International Energy Agency, He also worked as a scientist in Germany and Austria.


Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the UK.

The url to Index Research on The Pentagon and Oil is : http://indexresearch.blogspot.com/2008/07/index-research-pentagon-and-oil.html
The shorter url is : http://tinyurl.com/5nr2hw


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Editorial Notes: Contributor Sarah Meyer reports that changes were made by Sohbet Karbuz to the original article after she published it, for which she extends her thanks and apologies. Sarah Meyer is an independent researcher in the UK who regularly contributes extensive compilations of information. -BA

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