Tyranny of Fuel
In response to your February 2010 editorial, “Tough to Free Troops From Oppressive Tyranny of Fuel,” you wrote, “One immediate fix for Afghanistan would be to replace older generators, which devour the bulk of the fuel at U.S. bases there.”
I could not agree more.
I am a special projects manager at Richland LLC and our sister company, Outpost Solar, is building renewable power solutions such as the Armored Mobile Solar 5 kW generator (AMS-5).
We have engineered the AMS-5 to be easily deployed by equipment that the military currently has, power the typical needs of a forward operating base, withstand the environment it is deployed in and contain enough batteries to run a typical load for up to five days without sun.
Believe it or not, we have been trying to get this product field tested and deployed for the last year, without success.
While the military seems to publicly outline its need for “greener” power generation, as a supplier of solutions we have found this green-washing to be quite frustrating. We are still hard at work, exploring the necessary channels to move our project forward.
I admire the angle that you used in your article. I agree that the high cost of fuel should be a more than adequate motivator to instill some change. The dangerous fuel resupply missions and the desire to generate power covertly in the field should also be strong motivators.
At the $400 per gallon of fuel price point, assuming the generators burn half a gallon an hour, our product has a payback period of about 48 days of operation. Reducing fuel resupply missions to forward operating bases could save countless lives.
Pulaski, TNArmy’s Rising Air Power
In your April 2010 article, “Army on a Fast Track to Build its Own High-Tech Air Force,” my comments were a call to our Army to look more closely at our requirement for tactical situational awareness in a counterinsurgency environment.
In my comments I attempted to recognize that U.S. airpower had completely secured the third dimension (opening many options to the Army and our industry partners), but that the Army was unable to adequately leverage it to achieve the needed degree of situational awareness on the ground.
What I was trying to suggest is that we, the Army, need a 24/7 persistent stare capability for remote combat outposts and dismounted forces conducting operations. Reconnaissance helicopters and UAVs may be parts of the solution, but by themselves do not seem to be able to provide the 24/7 persistent stare to which I was referring.
Timothy S. MuchmoreExcerpts from e-mails and online postings:
Director, Army QDR office
Regarding the April 2010 editorial, “To Defense Industry, the Future Looks Uncomfortably Unfamiliar.”
Great article outlining the difficulties faced by the defense industry. However, the attitude of the panelist quoted in the last paragraph of the article is worrisome. Apparently panelists don’t understand that if national debt continues to balloon, we will reach a point where even an admiring world will not let “us keep doing it” and we will be unable to fund an adequate defense. Better to deal with our financial realities and work on fiscal soundness while there is no immediate existential threat to the United States.
Jim TurnerRegarding the April 2010 article, “The Osprey: She is High Maintenance, but Marines Love Her Anyway.”
This is a brand new aircraft being compared to 25 to 40 year old aircraft. It has a 65 to 70 percent up rate, and they are throwing money at it more so than any other platform. It can definitely fly faster, but the lifecycle costs, in addition to the huge upfront purchase price, make it a bad bargain. The Marines on the ground would probably much prefer 10 deployed squadrons of UH-60s or even old H-46s to the one deployed squadron of V-22s, and that is what you’re really looking at in terms of costs. This thing has some sexy technology, and is particularly suited to a few specialized missions, but when it comes to being a flying pickup truck for the Marines, it fails on cost every time. No matter how many colonels and generals try to further their careers by piling on the accolades, it is still a bad deal for all Marines everywhere.