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Our Eco-Friendly Military

By / 4.12.2010

“The Army’s mission is not to be green. Our mission is to defend the nation. In that context, we’ve found it’s in our interest to develop sustainable projects.”

This is the powerful quote by the Army’s program director for energy security in a new must-read article in USA Today. At the E3 Initiative, we’ve been arguing for months that new energy practices are essential to upgrading our national security strategy.

The military has recently spent over $100 million to insulate tents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? It cuts the leakage of air conditioning by at least 50 percent. Taxpayers recoup their investment within 90 days.

All this is important to defense because it addresses the sluggish, dangerous practices of our old-energy defense posture. For example, truck convoys carrying water and gas (required by inefficient energy in theater) are vulnerable to roadside bombs, which themselves are the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. As USA Today reports, “Greater energy efficiency also helps keep troops in war zones safer, because it reduces the number of trucks on the road carrying fuel to outlying bases.”

As the Army recognizes, sustainability isn’t about ideology — being “green” for the sake of being green. It’s about making America smarter, tougher, more competitive and more resilient: lessons we should remember as we head into the inevitable fight in Congress about legislation to price and control carbon.