Friday, March 16, 2012

DOD Over A Barrel: Crude Impact on Operations and Maintenance

Apparently, last February’s attack on Sec Navy Mabus for seeking an alternative to fossil fuels was not the work of a rogue numb skull.  It appears to be a trend among House Republicans.  Now REP Lamborn (R) Colorado Springs feels he needs to remind SecNav what his mission is.  He wants to be sure that the Navy knows its mission is to keep the sea lines of communications open for the free flow of oil rather than seek and alterative for that oil.  Have we become so blinded by ideological dogma that we can no longer take a strategic view?  It does not seem worth entering the fray.  One of the great pieces of wisdom I was given as a young man was that one ought not argue with idiots; they will simple drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.   Instead, I appeal to the people of Colorado Springs.   If you want a legislator to question the military’s strategy, send someone with military qualifications. With Carson and AFA right there, surely you can do better.   I am certain Mr. Lamborn is a fine lawyer, but may lack the understanding that if we don’t have to put fleets in harm’s way to protect Chinese oil, he,  as “a strong advocate for our men and women defending our nation in the military” would be better serving those men and women. 

In the event you haven't filled up the car recently, you might not have noticed the dramatic increase in the price of gasoline.  I usually plan on spending about $200 a month for gas.  Last month it was $300.  The $4.14 I paid in southern Georgia kind of bit me.  In 2012, DoD planned on spending about $88 for a barrel of oil in 2012, and on 14 Mar 2012, the commodity traded at $123.25 a barrel.  For every dollar above $88, it costs the Pentagon $31 million according to the DOD Comptroller.  The ASD, OEPP tells us that DOD uses about 300K barrels a day, so one day’s replenishment on the 14th would have cost DOD $10.5M over what they expected to spend…….THAT DAY!  That money comes out of operations and training accounts, services accounts and, eventually programs like new equipment.  Do you think that serves our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines well?  What are you doing about that, Mr. Lamborn? Perhaps all the loose talk about attacking Iran that has so thrilled speculators could ease up as well.

Senator McCain, a man I respect enormously, despite Game Change, has entered the fix.  This week he took a swipe at Mabus, likening the efforts to another Solyndra.  When someone of Mr. McCain’s military acumen starts down the road, it can clearly be identified as a Republican Talking Point.  McCain wants to kill the program.  Does he have an alternative?  Not in evidence.  Is it drill, baby, drill?  This is like saying that heroin is too expensive; we need more dealers.

I wonder how these stalwarts would have reacted to DOD paying exorbitant prices in the ‘60s (relative to today) for microchips, just because the wanted a better, more secure way to communicate?  Do you think they would have supported the satellite systems that gave us GPS? This hyperbolic, partisan naysaying serves no one.  

So, Members of Congress, if you are really concerned about the mission of the military, you can get off your dead butts and pass a budget that will keep the military from having to suffer the brunt of the sequestration.  Rather than berating the SecNav, get a national energy policy in place that funds research into alternative fuels so that the world will not be beholden to vagrancies of Middle Eastern oil merchants.  The current approval rating of Congress is 10%.  The current approval rating of the military is in the 80’s.  Maybe, rather than trotting out your talking points, you might inquire why the Navy, Air Force and Army are doing what they are doing.  You might learn something.  But I doubt it.    Dan Nolan


Anonymous said...

Great points. The Navy's goal to get off of fossil fuels IS a security issue, it WILL reduce their budget long-term and maybe Sen. McCain needs to think about the geo-political ramificiations of the polar caps melting.....we don't have enough ships to defend them. And if we cannot get off oil, as the demands rise from other countries, we will be choked off in the supply/demand conundrum.

So the Navy's goals to reduce energy, being green isn't about bieng green to save a baby seal, it is about national security.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. It was right on. It points out the lack of understanding (or desire to understand) the link between energy and security.

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