Marines Go Solar in Afghanistan to Avoid Dangerous Fuel Runs

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
(photo: Gunnery Sgt. William Price)
Going green is a better idea than going to funerals, the U.S. Marine Corps has decided for its troops fighting in Afghanistan.
After realizing that Marines stood a 1-in-50 chance of getting wounded while retrieving fuel or water for units, service commanders have decided to equip thousands of Marines with solar-powered equipment in order to reduce gasoline consumption, and thus, the need to make risky runs to get it.
Another benefit of the solar strategy is that it makes less necessary the controversial hiring of local contractors to truck fuel from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Many of those hired to run supply convoys have spent tens of millions of dollars on protection from the Taliban, resulting in American taxpayer dollars winding up in the hands of the enemy. But by relying more on solar, Marines won’t require as many fuel convoys.
The Marine Corps plans to spend $9 million on portable solar panels by 2012 for units in the field. It also intends to increase the number of solar-powered generators in Afghanistan from nine to 300 by the end of next year.
The service is already using PowerShade, a large solar tarp that can generate enough electricity to quietly power a lighting system for a tent, and the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System, a solar panel array that can run a platoon-sized command center.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Marines Going Green to Save Lives on Battlefield (by Julie Watson, Associated Press)
Pentagon Goes Solar in War (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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