Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Army Takes a Very Close Look at Convoy Casualties

All I can say is if you care about our troops, their ability to accomplish the missions they're given, and have been paying any attention to DOD energy issues, then this report is well worth your attention. Released in September 2009, it's called "Sustain the Mission Project: Casualty Factors for Fuel and Water Resupply Convoys Final Technical Report" and can be downloaded in PDF here.

Before you dive in deep, here are a couple of preview snippets. From the Conclusions section:
Since 2004, resupply casualties have been decreasing in Iraq and increasing in Afghanistan. Energy and water technologies are emerging that can substantively reduce the need for resupply convoys in theater; and therefore potentially reduce casualties without sacrificing operational effectiveness .... Resupplying troops in theater with fuel and water is a mission in which personnel vulnerability can be reduced through increased use of energy efficiency, renewable energy and on-site water production in theaters of operations.
and this on unforeseen consequences from Recommendations on MRAP vehicles:
The case of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle—the MRAP is a heavier, more formidable system, but fuel inefficient requiring more fuel convoys — is a good example of the issue of tradeoff between vulnerability and fuel efficiency. High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), which are particularly susceptible to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, have been replaced by MRAPs in many cases. In the short term this is an excellent force protection solution to the IED problem; however, the MRAP consumes significantly more fuel than the traditional (and up-armored) HMMWV and therefore requires more fuel resupply convoys. The complexity and scope of these types of issues and tradeoffs is beyond the scope of the methodology and capability presented in this report. These hardware decisions require the application of large scale combat and combat support models used by the Army’s analytical agencies such as the Center for Army Analysis.
Take away: DOD requirements folks haven't had analytical tools for energy factors. Commanders' calls for better protection for troops in convoys simultaneously put more troops in harm's way as more convoys must travel IED-strewn roads to transport the additional fuel MRAPs' need vs. the trucks they replace. This report (and this blog's constant emphasis on metrics for operational energy) is a call to action for more and better energy-related analytical tools and models to improve mission effectiveness ... and save more of our brave, young folks' lives.

Photo Credit:

No comments: