Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Problem with Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders - author, educator and tool - recently took aim at the big green machine, how much fuel it consumes and how wasteful all of this is and how this contributes to global warming. Sort of - it's hard to work through the thicket of obfuscation and ratty data.

That armored vehicles are fuel hogs and that POL is a huge consumer of logistic assets is not news. Should we work on this? Log officers the world over would love to have a fuel efficient HMMWV - and it would cost a lot less to operate.

Of course this would make our armed forces yet more lethal and efficient at the business of breaking things and killing people so this might not have the end result Mr. Sanders desires. So it goes.

I'd be a poor blogger indeed if I didn't - along with about eleventy-dozen other bloggers - point out where Mr. Sanders went off the rails.

The Army tries to keep its entire inventory of Abrams tanks up and running in Iraq--all 1,838 of them.
As opposed to just parking say, half of them in a depot. Tanks are heavy fuel eating monsters - I doubt even the Army would ship 1,838 of them to Iraq unless they really needed all of them.
Feeding the appetites of these voracious machines, with gasoline or diesel or kerosene, requires intricate logistical planning and support from some 2,000 trucks, a battery of computers, another 20,000 GIs, and, according to an Associated News report for September 2007, as many as 180,000 workers under federal contracts--more contract workers, in fact, than soldiers. Of the twenty-eight private security companies operating in Iraq, the major ones are Blackwater USA, Triple Canopy, Kellogg, Brown and Root, DynCorp International, and the Vinnell Corporation. The largest of them is not even American, but British, named the Aegis Corporation.

Many of the contract workers are former military Special Forces troops, such as Navy Seals and the Army's Delta Force.
We jumped - in one paragraph - from talking about logistics to talking about trigger pullers. Rangers and SEALs might be able to handle fuel and logistics but they probably wouldn't sign up for that job. But hey - logistics is boring and Blackwater and their fellow contractors are hot hot hot.

What contractors have to do with fuel and global warming ... I have no idea.
He (Erik Prince - Blackwater) intends to expand into a "full spectrum" defense contractor, offering "one-stop shopping" for anything and everything the military might need, from unmanned planes to tanks and ammunition.
Lousy running-dog capitalist.
On its way to the Persian Gulf in 2002, a trip that took fourteen days, the Independence went through two million gallons of fuel.
Independence was decommissioned in 1998. For a ship laid up at the yard I'd say that's pretty good fuel consumption.
Already sitting in the Gulf were ten other "Carrier Task Forces" built around the aircraft carriers Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Chester W. Nimitz, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, Harry S. Truman, and the Abraham Lincoln.
And this happened when? Twelve carriers in the Gulf at the same time? You could walk from one side to the other on the flight decks.
The USS Abraham Lincoln, familiar to us as the ship on whose deck President Bush declared to the nation, on May 2, 2003,"Mission Accomplished,"
Huffington Post Style Guide Rule 12: at least one obligatory slam against President Bush per post. No exceptions.
The USS Lincoln helped deliver the opening salvos and air strikes in Operation Iraqi Freedom. From March 2003 until mid-April of that same year, during its deployment in the Gulf, the Navy launched 16,500 sorties from its deck, and fired 1.6 million pounds of ordnance from its guns.
This was after her refit when the Navy mounted two turrets from the USS New Jersey on her flight deck, aft of the island, creating the first carrier-battleship hybrid. Next year they're going to put wheels on her so the Navy can drive around on land like the Army.
Just one pair of Apaches in a single night's raid will consume about 60,000 gallons of jet fuel.
This is the famous Whale variant that carries a 30,000 gallon external fuel tank.
Any of the large helicopters--the Sea Stallion, Super Stallion, Sea Dragon, or Pave Low III--sucks up five gallons every mile.
Surely this isn't because the referenced models are, essentially, the same machine with different hardware and missions?
With its afterburners fired up, the F-16 Fighter Jet uses 800 gallons per hour, the F-15 about 1,580 gallons per hour.
Frick: Captain you're using up 800 gallons per hour on afterburner! Frak: That's ok, Colonel, I'm not going to be flying that long.
More dramatically, the F-4 Phantom Fighter
Do we even FLY these any more?
To keep the B-52 or F-111 in the air for extended periods of time requires in-flight re-fueling. Even though the B-52H holds an enormous 47,975 gallons of fuel, it requires mid-air refueling.
You're repeating yourself. Someone call an editor for Mr. Sanders!
That's the job of the aerial refueling tankers, the KC-10, which burns 2,050 gallons per hour, and the larger KC-135 Stratotanker, which itself carries 31,275 US gallons of fuel, and sucks up an impressive 2,650 gallons per hour; and the KC-10.
He's doing it again - where is that damned editor!
We can assume, with confidence, however, that those bases run through a considerable number of barrels of fuel.
You know what they say when you assume ...
The only way I know how to make military pollution in any way tangible here is through numbers,
It would help if you would use correct numbers when you have them available.

It's not that his argument has no merit - it's that it's hard to take a fellow seriously who make mistakes with his basic facts and figures. What else is hiding in his prose? What else is he fudging or obscuring? If he's dishonest he's not worth reading. If he's just dumb he's fair game for mockery - and also not worth reading.

Cross Posted to The Daily Brief.
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