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Every $1 increase in the price of oil per barrel costs the Navy $30 million
In development: portable combat outposts powered by fuel-efficient generators and solar panels
Since Vietnam, there has been a 175% increase in the demand for fuel per servicemember
WASHINGTON — An army marches on its stomach, according to an old military adage.
Today's military is tethered to a gas pump.
The amount of fuel used per individual soldier has skyrocketed in recent years because of an increased use of aircraft and armored vehicles. In Afghanistan, that dependency has meant long and costly supply lines that are vulnerable to attack and limit the reach of American forces.
The Pentagon increasingly sees this energy dependence as a military weakness and is trying to reduce it. The Navy is attempting to transition to biofuels for its ships and planes, and the Army and Marine Corps are exploring a host of initiatives, including using solar energy to power radio batteries.
"Every time some yahoo says 'I'm going to close the Strait of Hormuz' (the price of) oil spikes," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told USA TODAY in an interview.
In the past, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil supply travels.
"Right now, we buy our oil from foreign sources, and some of those sources don't have our best interest at heart," Mabus said.
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SOLDIER SOLAR PACKS
The services are also developing portable combat outposts powered by fuel-efficient generators and solar panels. The Marine Corps is experimenting with small, flexible solar panels that can be attached to a Marine's uniform.
"We've looked at everything," said Col. Bob Charette, director of the Marine Corps' expeditionary energy office. He said solar was the most mature of the indust