In Afghanistan, the Handwriting Is on the Wall

At the other end of the equation, modern armies and sophisticated equipment consume huge quantities of everything from peanut butter to electric batteries. All that body armor and those computer consoles, not to mention shells and rockets, adds up to great weight and volume. Many posts can be reached only by helicopter. Aviation fuel is at a premium, gasoline an equally daunting necessity -- not just for vehicles but for the electric generators that power American bases. Requirements in fact rule out certain kinds of equipment -- few Abrams tanks are in the theater, for example -- vehicles that measure gas consumption in gallons per mile. Concerned about the price of gas for your car? It costs $400 to put one gallon of gas on the ground in certain places in Afghanistan. In 2009, according to Pentagon estimates, allied forces were consuming over half a million gallons of gasoline per day, a figure that nearly doubled before the new "surge" troops began reaching the country. During the Vietnam war the Pentagon calculated that every soldier in-country represented $7,000 in the war budget. For Afghanistan that figure is $1,000,000.