FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US Military’s A/C Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan Gives Me the Shivers

The United States Military is spending $20.2 billion a year for air-conditioning the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read that again please: $20.2 billion just to provide air-conditioning for our troops in these two desert countries.

How much is $20.2 billion?

Well, I live in Pennsylvania, where the eighth-largest school district in the country, here in Philadelphia, is about to lose 1300 of its 11,000 teachers–that’s 12% of the teaching staff in an already overcrowded school system, because the state’s Republican governor and legislature want to cut some $500 million in education funding from the state’s $27-billion budget. That military air-conditioning bill could not only restore those teachers by closing the $400 million budget deficit facing the Philadelphia School District. It could almost fund the entire budget of the state! In fact, it could probably fund the school budget deficit in almost all the school districts in the nation.

$20.2 billion is more than the entire budget of the state of North Carolina!

It is the same as the $20-billion shortfall expected next year in the federal Pell Grant program that provides scholarship aid to low-income students attending college.

It is about one-forth of the entire budget of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

It is two-and-a-half times the size of the entire 50-state federal Head Start program of early childhood education.

Now I know our soldiers have it tough over there in the 120-130-degree heat in Iraq, and it’s pretty hot in Afghanistan too, at least in the valleys. But then again, very few Iraqis and even fewer Afghans have air-conditioning. Many have probably never even seen an air-conditioner. And most, if they had one, wouldn’t have any electricity to run it with. (That’s why air conditioning is so costly for the US military. Not only do they have to ship in the A/C units. They have to truck in the gas to run the generators to produce the electricity to run the A/C, at great personal risk to the drivers of the fuel trucks).

That $20.2 billion, by the way, is also about a tenth of the total cost of the two ongoing wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’m tempted to say something about what an incredible waste this is, and about how far we’ve come from the days when soldiers were expected to crawl through the mud, live off the land, sweat to death in the summer and freeze to death in the winter, but I think I’ll just leave you with the numbers above.

Ten years the US has been fighting in Afghanistan, and eight in Iraq, and the best we can say is that we sure can air-condition our military in tough terrain.

What I will say is that if we’re spending $20 billion to air-condition the troops (most of whom, by the way, are not out in the field fighting (those grunts probably don’t have A/C). It’s the ones my colleague, Vietnam veteran John Grant, calls the REMFs (for rear-echelon MF-ers) who get all the cooling.

But this is just the tip of the absurdist iceberg. I’m sure we’re spending hundreds of billions more on equally outrageous stuff. How else to explain the astonishing fact that, according to the Pentagon, each US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1.2 million a year!

How much is $1.2 million? Well, my town of Upper Dublin, PA just spent $140 million to build a new high school. So that entire high school could have been financed by the return of 117 US troops. The current budget deficit of my town’s school district is exactly that: $1.2 million. So bring one soldier home from Afghanistan and we could replace my district’s missing state funds.

I’m told $1.2 million is also the cost of a commercial scale 1 megawatt wind turbine, so if we brought home all 100,000 US troops from Afghanistan, hell, we’d be able to put up 100,000 wind turbines each year, and in the time it took us to battle to fight the Afghan War to date, we could be generating one-tenth of the total US electric energy needs from wind! Talk about your swords into plowshares!

The irony is that our top-of-the-line military has been fought to a standstill not by another air-conditioned army, but by a small group of guys with no bullet-proof vests, no Kevlar helmets (no helmets at all, actually), no fancy guns, no heavy artillery, no air support, no satellite positioning devices, no armored personnel carriers or armored Humvees, no tanks, no drones and no night-vision equipment. And no A/C.

I’ve got a easy solution to cut the military’s cooling bill: bring all the troops home. They can have all the air-conditioning they want here. It’s cheap. And if we were creating the electric power with those windmills financed by the savings on not having troops abroad, it would be cheaper still.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent collectively-owned, journalist-run, reader-supported online alternative newspaper now beginning its second year of daily publication.

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail