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									                                                 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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