Afghanistan airconditioning

The Obama administration had at least the guts to justify the continued squandering of public money on the so-called war-on-terror in Afghanistan by formally handing over the foreign policy to the CIA and the Pentagon with a seemingly “limitless budget”.(see here). But why is the American media quiet on the cost of war that is crippling US economy — such as the U.S. military’s expenditure of $ 20.2 billion on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan every year?

“That’s more than NASA’s budget,” reports NPR. “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.”

Steven Anderson, who is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Petraeus’ chief logistician in Iraq, says: “”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.”

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?…”

… “When you have this many people in a country that doesn’t want you there — that has no economy, no infrastructure and a corrupt government — and you’re trying to stabilize it and build them into a viable nation? I’m not sure we have enough time, and I definitely know we don’t have enough money….”

More here…

While the probability of America defaulting on its debts isn’t very high, the cost of default would be catastrophic (see here).

Whatever their strength, American troops will not determine success in Afghanistan, says Fareed Zakaria. Nor will the newly formed Afghan National Army. More here…

SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist