The US Army, led by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, having identified climate change as a top priority, launched a Climate Working Group in response to a January executive order signed by President Joe Biden.  As part of this initiative to respond to global warming and climate change as grave threats t0 national security the Army has adopted a plan to transition into using hybrid-drive, electric vehicles, tactical electric vehicles by 2035, and fully electric vehicles by 2050, according to its new Army Climate Strategy. Furthermore, it also aims to attain net-zero greenhouse emissions from all US Army procurements by 2050.

We will withhold judgment on the wisdom of the Army publishing its plans to defeat the enemy(Climate Change) in the open like this.

If it were treated as a country, the US military would rank 47th in global carbon emissions. A study done by Durham and Lancaster University revealed that the US military was “one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.”

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 2d Cavalry Regiment (2CR) receive the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) at Rose Barracks, Germany, on Jan. 30, 2021 (DVIDS). Source: https://www.dvidshub.net/image/6506537/2cr-receives-jltv
US Army Soldiers assigned to the 2d Cavalry Regiment (2CR) receive the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) at Rose Barracks, Germany, on Jan. 30, 2021 (DVIDS).

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth expressed that there is no best time to tackle climate change head-on than the present. “The Army must adapt across our entire enterprise and purposefully pursue greenhouse gas mitigation strategies to reduce climate risks. If we do not take action now, across our installations, acquisition and logistics, and training, our options to mitigate these risks will become more constrained with each passing year,” she said in a statement.

With the US aware of its carbon footprint, it now wants to decrease its negative impact on climate change by going hybrid and electric to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel. First, its non-tactical vehicle fleet (NTV) will be modernized by slowly removing old NTVs and replacing them with hybrid vehicles. These vehicles include sedans, station wagons, utility vehicles, trucks, vans, and buses that the US Army utilizes.

Efforts have actually begun with over 18,000 NTVs removed and replaced by 3,000 hybrid vehicles in the last three years, saving the Army about 13 million gallons per year, said to reduce greenhouse gases emissions per mile by 12%, and above all, decreasing NTV fleet costs by over $50,000,000. After the transition has been done for NTVs, its tactical vehicles will be the next to transition, with the aim of having fully-electric tactical vehicles by 2050.

Members of the Company B, 1/296th Infantry Regiment of the Puerto Rico National Guard patrol the perimeter around Joint Task Force Guantanamo with a Humvee, one of the vehicles that can be replaced by an electric version (DVIDS). Source: https://www.dvidshub.net/image/349955/humvee-patrol
Members of the Company B, 1/296th Infantry Regiment of the Puerto Rico National Guard patrol the perimeter around Joint Task Force Guantanamo with a Humvee, one of the vehicles that can be replaced by an electric version (DVIDS).

In line with these actions taken, the Army Materiel Command in 2021 had enacted a mandate which orders all vehicle leases and purchases must be all-electric. If no electric vehicles are commercially available, then hybrids must be purchased or leased. Conventional vehicles that use gas can only be used upon an approved exception—otherwise, vehicles that run on fossil fuel are not permitted.

The Army has also pursued strategic partnerships to develop prototypes of electric reconnaissance vehicles, with the first unit expected to be completed and tested by September 2023.

Pursuant to its goals, the US Army plans to invest in 470 charging stations in 2022 so that the transition from using conventional vehicles to electric vehicles will be easier. According to the Army Climate Strategy, garrison commanders will be working with utility suppliers to widen and expand the service area of these charging units, aiming to have electric vehicle infrastructure on virtually every US Army installation with Fort Benning and Fort Irwin serving as the US Army’s pilot programs.

Will the Army going over to all-electric or hybrid vehicles mean that they are at Net-Zero emissions?  The answer is probably, No.

The manufacture of the vehicle and its batteries create their own greenhouse gas emissions that are only said to be lower than gas-powered vehicles when calculated over the life of the vehicle. The chart below by the EPA purporting to show how much fewer greenhouse gases are produced by Electric vehicles compared to gas-powered ones seems to show gas vehicles producing significantly more greenhouse gases. However, the graph is missing the numbers which would show exactly how much in actual numbers.  The vertical grid lines could represent   10 tonnes of carbon emissions or 1 ounce, it doesn’t say. The absence of those numbers probably means that EVs don’t really reduce emissions all that much over gas powered vehicles or they would be front and center with those numbers

And unless the electric power used to recharge the battery is produced by a powerplant using wind or solar exclusively, these EVs and hybrids will not be Net-Zero emission vehicles, ever.

To further support its goals of going green, the US Army also continues to use its real property assets to house future renewable energy projects so that it can reduce its reliance on the national electric grid. Their consumption reportedly costs $740 million a year, with over 4.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. While it has reduced overall greenhouse emissions by 20% since it started its efforts in 2008, the Army says it shall pursue more pollution-free electricity production and storage. By 2030, the Army aims to each its 100% carbon-pollution-free electricity.

Past attempts to Go-Green by other services have not met with much success in saving taxpayers money.  A Navy initiative to convert its ships over to bio-fuels by 2020 under the Obama administration did not go at all as planned. A Navy exercise with ships, planes and helicopters all running on a 50/50 mix of bio-fuel and conventional fuel ended up costing the Navy(and the taxpayers by extension) the astronomical price of $26 a gallon.  This would be the cost of conventional petroleum fuels if oil prices went to $1,000 a barrel, or ten times its current price.  This is not because the production of bio-fuels is a new and exotic technology that can be improved over time. Bio-fuels have been around since WWI with vehicles running on ethanol and other bio-fuels. Their use in vehicles has been limited because they have always been expensive to produce.

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