U.S. spends $20 billion per year on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan
Pakistani firefighters extinguish a burning NATO supply oil tanker following an attack by gunmen on the outskirts of Quetta on June 19, 2011. Gunmen torched an oil tanker carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan after killing its driver in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan on June 19, police said. (Getty Images)
June 27th, 2011
02:19 PM ET

U.S. spends $20 billion per year on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan

NPR reports:

The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion.

That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.

"When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we're talking over $20 billion," Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq.

Why does it cost so much?

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than "improved goat trails," Anderson says. "And you've got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way."

Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125 degree heat require a lot of fuel. Anderson says by making those structures more efficient, the military could save lives and dollars.

Still, his $20.2 billion figure raises stark questions about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In the wake of President Obama's announcement this week that about 30,000 American troops will soon return home, how much money does the U.S. stand to save?

Read the full article over at NPR.

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Topics: Afghanistan • Economy • Iraq • United States

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Imran Alam

    What a shame, and let the nation suffer at home!

    June 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  2. Onesmallvoice

    No surprise here, considering the rampant corruption among the right-wing thugs in Washington who work for the MIC(military-industrial-complex).

    June 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Reply
    • Kevin

      Yep, Democrats are as pure as the driven snow.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • david55

      It wasnt just republicans who got us here. There werent enough people who actually questioned why we were going into iraq in the first place. Afghanistan was logical (somewhat) iraq was not.

      June 29, 2011 at 12:21 am | Reply
  3. SarahPalin

    Air conditioned soldiers are "good" soldiers. When I'm elected president, I'm going to take away the air conditioners of the Old, Sick, and Poor people and give them to the soldiers. Then the Old, Sick, and Poor can just make their own gravy from their sweat.

    June 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Air-conditioning? That's something that the Taliban definitely don't have.
    I wonder if the Spanish, Italian anf French troops etc. have the same luxury as their American peers! I'm sure the Germans don't complain much, but there are only 4.000 of them.. No wonder the war in Afghanistan is so expensive!

    June 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  5. RAJ

    It is time to defend and save our economy first in this competitive world. First step required is to cut all unnecessary expenses in defending other countries. Economic strong USA is more important than the strong USA militarily.

    June 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • Crazy_Indian

      OPS rAj they are talking not about you pindia..... or you forgot what you are!!!

      June 28, 2011 at 12:06 am | Reply
    • RAJA

      Of course, one way for the US to save more money is to handout more H1B visas to Indians. Ask Fareed Zakaria. He will surely agree.

      June 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  6. Matthew Hornsby

    yeah true $20B for airconditioning/fuel/supplies/medevac etc... its time to end this crazy unending war. BO should bring all the troops home, not just the teeny fraction of 10K troops. That's peanuts!

    June 27, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  7. gnp in d island

    that's so disgusting it makes my head spin. we're insane.

    June 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  8. Peter Byck

    So now we learn that the Dept of Defense is spending $20 billion air conditioning tents “in a hot sandy place,” as Amory Lovins says in our new documentary, Carbon Nation (@co2nation, http://www.carbonnationmovie.com). And our soldiers are dying delivering all that fuel that’s being wasted in the diesel generators at our forward operating bases (FOB), because fuel convoys at prime targets. This is waste upon waste: as Dan Nolan adds, our soldiers are dying while “we are basically air conditioning the desert.” Carbon Nation is about solutions. And the FOB solution is to insulate the tents with foam, reducing the fuel load to less than a fifth of what was needed before. That’s one fuel convoy for every five previously. But these solutions keep on coming. Watching Navy Sec. Ray Mabus speak last month, I was blown away by his new goal: to have his Navy (which includes the Marines) to have all of its fuel, all of it, to be U.S-made biofuel by 2020. Biofuel that uses no food sources or arable land. Biofuel 2.0.

    June 27, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  9. Jeff

    It is truly a good thing that they spend that much money.. for sure all that money they spend in their own country....to build export install that much air conditioner.. that helped americans to create jobs... why americans all time cry?? i dont know.. and yes oil is free...

    June 28, 2011 at 12:08 am | Reply
  10. Jeff

    Dont tell me all those air conditioners were imported from china.... it will make me to laugh more....

    June 28, 2011 at 12:14 am | Reply
  11. Deryk Houston

    Funny to see the question of the military cost in Afghanistan being asked now....after over ten years of war and thousands of lives. I really wonder where our brains are as a society for not questioning the cost of these brutally expensive high tech wars. It seems that the military always gets cart blanche if it can be proven that their machine kills people more effectively. No matter the cost. But education, infrastructure, health care etc etc ...all have to stand in line cap in hand. Is this our priorities in life? Is this the world we want to hand to our children? What does it take to change?

    June 28, 2011 at 11:30 am | Reply
  12. Adnan

    One way of wiining wr could be providing Taliban with these airconditoined tant so they will stay stay inside and donot fight.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:54 am | Reply
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    March 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
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    June 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply

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