Can you picture a Marine driving this truck? (Pic: Smith Newton)
First there were the solar panels and wind power generation gear that the U.S. Marine Corps shipped to Afghanistan, and now this bit of “Green” news: The Corps has become the first service to purchase electric trucks.
That’s right, your Marine Corps is quickly becoming the tree-hugging hippies of the Defense Department—if you discount the whole opposition to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell thing….
Now, the electric truck buy doesn’t represent some huge change in how the Corps does business, at least not yet. They’re only buying two. But if the experiment works, it could have wide-ranging implications to how Marines in garrison get from point A to point B, which when it comes to logistics, is significant. As Fast Company noted earlier this week, the Smith Newton electric truck—which has already been purchased by several U.S. government agencies as well as companies like Pepsi—sad “has zero tailpipe emissions, is virtually silent, and ultimately emits 75% less greenhouse gas than a typical diesel truck; it has a range of about 100 miles on a single charge and hits a top speed of 55 mph.”
This newest initiative comes hard on the heels of the deployment this past September Co. I, 3rd Btn., 5th Marines to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The Marines brought with them portable solar panels, energy-conserving lights, solar tent shields and solar power chargers that allow them to do away with bulky, fuel-guzzling diesel and kerosene generators, and let them live and fight in austere environments partially removed from the logistics of fuel and battery resupply. The "green" equipment cost $50,000-70,000, but considering that transportation costs to Afghanistan can drive the price of fuel to $400/gal., if the test is successful, the investment will quickly pay for itself.
And then there is the Corps’ Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB) program. In October, Raytheon announced that it had successfully completed all phases of testing on the renewable energy program, and is awaiting a decision from the Corps on the next step. As I reported in the December issue of DTI, ExFOB uses something called the ReGenerator, a self-contained power system that runs on an integrated 1.2-kw. solar array and wind power, with integrated battery storage, power-conditioning and power-conversion electronics. The system can also plug in to external a.c. sources and provide power to dismounted units.
In short, the Marines are taking this Green thing pretty seriously. But what's next, vegetarian MRE's?