June 25, 2010

Retired general says military uses too much oil

Retired Gen. Paul Eaton visited southern New Mexico this week to talk about renewable energy.

Aligning himself with VoteVets.org and the Vet Voice Foundation, Eaton said there is a huge connection between the United States military and the energy resources of the world.

"One percent of the liquid fossil fuel in the country is used by the Defense Department," Eaton said. He added that 0.5 percent of that is used by the U.S. Air Force.

Traveling with Eaton was VoteVets.org representative John Soltz.

"A thousand have died just defending fuel in Iraq," Soltz said. Nine out of 10 deployed in the armed forces are there to support those on the front line, he said.

Soltz also claimed that, every day, the military uses three times as much fuel in Iraq operations as has come out of the BP oil disaster.

"We end up funding both sides of the battle," he said, because some of the fuel the U.S. military is transporting is provided by Iraq.

The answer, Eaton thinks, is in developing domestic renewable resources.

Another factor is the warming of the climate, he said.

"You can talk about who is responsible," Eaton said. "But in the end, we are not dedicating the resources to avoid the problem."

Eaton said as mountain ice and glaciers melt and the ocean rises, islands may disappear. Rivers that deliver water to 1.5 billion people in China, Pakistan and India will be affected.

"The Tibetan glaciers are melting fast," Eaton said. "All that represents is a potential military national security issue as it could mean a massive migration to the U.S."

As people go deeper into fossil fuel resources, the U.S. is using more foreign oil to meet the needs of the country.

"The military ensures that oil continues to flow," he said. There are numerous alternatives to using oil, including wind, solar, thermal and even innovative nuclear sources, Eaton said.

"What are we going to do about it?" he asked. "Let's find out what we want to support and help the senators do the right thing."

He is advocating the support of elected officials who encourage the passage of renewable energy innovation and control over fossil fuel processing.

Eaton said the Defense Department has been asked to do a lot of work relating to climate and energy.

"You've got 1,000 flowers blooming in the DOD right now," Eaton said.

Eaton served in the U.S. Army.

"When I retired, I was an infantry guy," Eaton said. "I am also the father of soldiers. I am concerned because our guys and gals are literally getting killed over oil."

Eaton's military career spanned 33 years. His most notable command was after the invasion of Iraq, where he was tasked by then President George W. Bush with retraining the new Iraqi military in 2003.

"When I retired (in 2006), I was frustrated with the last administration and what they were doing to the Army and Marine Corps," he said.

Currently, he is a senior adviser to the National Security Network, which was formed in 2006.

The push for creative uses of renewable resources is needed in the military as well, Soltz said.

"The issue is in the bureaucracy. We go with the lowest bidder," he said. "It looks cheaper at the front end, but in the long run it costs much more."

The cost of the U.S. getting one gallon of fuel to a generator (for a military facility) at the top of an 8,000-foot mountain in Afghanistan works out to $400 a gallon, Eaton said.

"One of our ops took down a Taliban outpost at 10,000 feet," he said. "They had a car battery and a few solar panels that they were using for power."

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