Water emerges as the new US military imperative
The high profile successes of the US Department of Defense (DoD) Energy Operations initiative have paved the way for a second wave around water. Delivering fuel to the front lines in Afghanistan and in Iraq cost $400 a gallon, but the cost of water changes at each location.
Saving fuel in forward operating units saves more than money, it saves lives. 170 solidiers were killed in attacks on water and fuel convoys in 2007. Another 68 casualties are attributed to water deliveries during that period.
The cost of water might be tough to quantify, but when the value of water savings can be measured in lives saved, it becomes an operational imperative. Initially, the US DoD estimated that water comprised 20% of supplies brought to forward operating units. However, closer examination in 2010, by the Marines found that a battalion sized FOB had, on a weekly basis, 14 trucks delivering water and 2 trucks delivering fuel.
A forward operating unit can only stay on the front lines as long as its water supply lasts. Efficient onsite water management—applying proven leading-edge onsite water treatment and water reclaim—can help front line units stay longer to complete their missions, and save lives that might be lost in delivering water.
In addition, water has been identified as a “risk multiplier” by the US Quadrennial Defense Review. Water has driven unheaval in places like Syria and Jordan. In areas of political unrest, US defense efforts might mean bringing water technologies to help strengthen the steady flow of water.