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The military's $20 billion air conditioning bill: By the numbers
A former U.S. military logistician calculates the staggering cost of keeping soldiers from broiling in the desert
 
A U.S. army soldier in an Afghanistan housing tent: One expert's estimate says the U.S. military's air conditioning bill for Afghanistan and Iraq will exceed NASA's 2011 budget.
A U.S. army soldier in an Afghanistan housing tent: One expert's estimate says the U.S. military's air conditioning bill for Afghanistan and Iraq will exceed NASA's 2011 budget.
REUTERS/Bob Strong

It's no secret that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become quite expensive for U.S. taxpayers. But a former chief of military logistics in Iraq says the cost of air conditioning alone costs the federal government billions every year. "In essence, what we're doing is we're air conditioning the desert over there in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places," retired brigadier general Steven Anderson, a former chief logistician for Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, says, as quoted by Britain's Telegraph. Why is it so expensive? To air condition remote bases in Afghanistan, raw fuel is shipped into Pakistan, and then transported over hundreds of miles of "improved goat trails" for up to two weeks. That's not cheap. Here, a look at the cost of keeping the troops cool, by the numbers:

$20.2 billion
The military's annual air-conditioning cost in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Anderson's calculations

$18.7 billion
NASA's 2011 budget

$13 billion
Amount the Obama administration requested to train and equip Afghan security forces in the coming year

$1.1 billion
Estimated total cost to the U.S. for the intervention in Libya through September

$363 million
Total government funds that Planned Parenthood receives each year

125 degrees
Temperature that can be reached inside a tent in Iraq without air conditioning

$18
Cost of a gallon of gas once all the expenses of delivering it to troops in the field are factored in, according to Anderson

$30
Cost per gallon in Afghanistan, where many military units are serving in remote areas with poor roads

1,000
Estimate of the number of soldiers who have died during insurgent attacks on fuel convoys, a frequent target

92 percent
Decrease in air conditioning costs in experiments that use polyurethane foam insulation for tents in Iraq

Sources: ABC News, AZCentral.comNPRSalonTelegraph

 

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