Hybrid Hawks Call for Fuel Efficient Armed Forces

If you thought hybrids were only for tree-huggers, latte-sippers and peaceniks, consider a report released Monday by the Center for Naval Analyses. In the report, 12 high-ranking retired US military officers, representing four of the five branches of the US military, urged the Pentagon to take a leading role in eliminating the United States’ dependence on oil, and called on hybrid-electric military vehicles to immediately report for duty.

Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security comes on the heels of a 2007 report the CNA released that called climate change a “threat multiplier” to problems posed by several regions of the world that are unstable or on the verge of instability. The new warnings focus less on climate change and more on the immediate risks associated with powering the largest military in the world—and the nation it protects—with an imported, non-renewable commodity.

“At some bases, you have pick-up trucks making an astounding number of 20-mile trips. That’s a case where we could use plug-in hybrids.”

Admiral John Nathman

“Our dependence on foreign oil reduces our international leverage, places our troops in dangerous global regions, funds nations and individuals who wish us harm, and weakens our economy; our dependency and inefficient use of oil also puts our troops at risk,” reads the opening to the report. “We have found that the best approaches to energy, climate change, and national security may be one and the same.”

The report is less concerned with increasing the fuel economy of civilian vehicles than with reforming energy use within the armed services. The CNA’s Military Advisory Board (MAB) cites the logistical challenges of fueling a fully deployed military during wartime—and the outrageous associated costs. In some cases, the MAB found that the true cost of supplying a gallon of ordinary gasoline to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan reaches hundreds of dollars.

Efficiency on the Battlefield

“At peacetime military installations, it seems to me right now we can use off-the-shelf products,” said MAB member and retired USAF General Ronald E. Keys. “Better lighting, slow speed and hybrid vehicles, metering for buildings, insulation, better peak use tools, better partnering with companies and communities—we can do these things now.”

To truly have an impact on the cost and logistics of national defense, the most significant efficiency upgrades would have to come on the battlefield. The Army is currently developing a fleet of eight hybrid-electric Manned Ground Vehicles, and initial investments are being made in all branches of the armed forces to bring similar technologies to the front lines.

“At some of these bases, you have pick-up trucks making an astounding number of 20-mile trips. That’s a case where we could use plug-in hybrids,” writes retired Admiral John Nathman. “I think DoD wants the chance to be innovators. There’s real evidence of that, because the services are already thoughtfully moving forward on energy issues.”


  • JJspawn

    For all its spending, the military does have many, not too many, projects that use greener, newer technologies: Buildings using Fuel Cells, installing/testing insulation for buildings, hybrid diesel trucks.

    So yes they are doing stuff, but you are not going to see that stuff on the news. But if you did see it on the news, and everywhere else they would all of sudden find more funding to push the programs.

    Not to mention they have been pushing for biodiesel, and algae produced air plane fuel. Ok, the last two I’m not as sure about but they are going in that direction.

  • Tom Me

    This is great. I’ve heard it said that at the core of battle planning is logistics. You have to get massive amounts of resources, including FUEL to a specific place at a specific time. The military participating in solving these problems will have huge implications for our trucking, shipping, construction, etc industries. And then there’s the core issue of having a more capable military, which is certainly not the “oh by the way” here.

  • fred smilek

    I really think that this is GREAT! at least they are trying. But can’t wait for this to be done.

  • andrew Valdez

    Quit skirting the obvious solution, if they’re serious, a simple phone call to Raser technologies will provide an already researched and an already built solution to the armed services concerns about fuel efficient hybrid trucks and Hummers.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    I’m glad this day may finally come. I was on one of the first deployments the Marines made after switching from 30 mpg, 4 person Jeeps to the 10 mpg 5 person HMMWV (Hummer) and was appalled that some moron actually thought they were equivalent.
    The Hummers were awkward to manipulate. The only saving grace regarding fuel was that their introduction meant that we only had to handle diesel which ships were filled with for aircraft and their own engines. Ashore, it meant a whole lot more trucks to handle the fuel.
    Fuel economy is important, whether you are driving to work or fighting a war.

  • fred smilek

    “Efficiency on the Battlefield” so now it is going to be fine to have wars because now we are going to be efficient.

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

    Holy smokes, that earlier poster was right. I looked up Raser Technologies. Their website is rasertech.com. Their website has a link to a video of their appearance on CNBC where the announcers interviewed the Chairman.

    It sounds really odd rolling off the tongue, but these people actually developed a plug-in electric hybrid Hummer H3 that gets up to 100 miles per gallon.

    It turns out the company also makes geothermal energy power plants, so they’ve developed ways to efficiently produce energy and to power the large vehicles that we actually want to buy.

    Sweeet.

  • tapra1

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