Peter Tertzakian, who identifies a strong, almost linear relationship between the United States' gross domestic product and o consumption, demonstrates how this relationship underwent a sharp change after the oil shock of 1979.4 Fairness aside, the nation's well-being is tied directly to the availability and use of cheap, ubiquitous energy sources for transportation, food, defense, industry, and health. Because energy is a vital national interest, the United States feels compelled to engage in places that have large oil reserves and/ or the infrastructure to extract, transport, and process those reserves.
Achieving Balance Energy, Effectiveness, and Efficiency Col John B. Wissler, USAF I n 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita severely affected the United States’ petroleum- refining capacity, causing gas prices to spike as high as five dollars per gallon. In an instant, Americans glimpsed a new future defined by constrained energy supplies; in reality, the global demand for energy is increasing faster than the supply.1 The summer of 2008 saw a repeat of this occurrence, driven not only by natural events but also by other forces as gas prices exceeded four dollars per gallon causing, among other things, a drastic drop in demand for sport utility vehicles. China, India, and other countries are rapidly increasing their consumption while produc- tion from known oil fields is peaking (referred to as Hubbert’s Peak), a phenomenon predicted since the 1950s with varying degrees of accuracy.2 Furthermore, we are experiencing a de- cline in the discovery of new fields and the amount of oil associated with them. Although we do not know exactly when world oil production will begin to decrease, it will likely occur in the next 30 years although we will feel the effects before then due to greater demand. Consequently, we should consider viewing energy in a strategic military context. Such a perspective must focus on the continued availability of energy supplies and on how and why the military uses energy. Taking this approach can then influence the Department of Defense’s (DOD) acquisition and use of weapon systems. To a large extent, energy dictates this country’s foreign policy interests and is critical to the nation’s prosperity, even as other countries complain that the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but uses 22 per- cent of the world’s energy.3 Be- cause of its outstanding proper- ties with respect to storage, energy density, and ease of 80 | Air & Space Power Journal use, petroleum is a particularly useful and the cost of transporting fuel, especially to a necessary commodity, especially to the remote location, runs 10 to 100 times the United States. Peter Tertzakian, who identi- market rate. A Defense Science Board study fies a strong, almost linear relationship be- of 2001 mentioned $17.50 per gallon as the tween the United States’ gross domestic cost of fuel delivered by Air Force tankers product and oil consumption, demonstrates worldwide, not the approximately one dol- how this relationship underwent a sharp lar per gallon that the DOD paid for fuel at change after the oil shock of 1979.4 Fairness that time. The cost of fuel for forward- aside, the nation’s well-being is tied directly deployed Army units was higher, in the to the availability and use of cheap, ubiqui- range of hundreds of dollars per gallon.6 Al- tous energy sources for transportation, food, though these figures include the cost of fuel defense, industry, and health. itself, overhead, expenses associated with Because energy is a vital national interest, the vast delivery infrastructure, and fuel the United States feels compelled to engage needed to run that infrastructure (e.g., tanker in places that have large oil reserves and/or aircraft and trucks), increases in fuel prices the infrastructure to extract, transport, and clearly have a huge impact on the price of process those reserves. As the demand for operating at the extended distances charac- and availability of worldwide petroleum di- teristic of today’s expeditionary forces. verge, the nation will likely take an ev
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