Last year, the price of gasoline in the United States topped the $4 per gallon mark.
This year in Afghanistan, the price has topped $400.
The stunning revelation emerged Thursday in a report by the Congressional Research Service, an arm of Congress that conducts non-partisan evaluations of projects and programs. The report says that part of the reason it costs so much to keep US forces in Afghanistan, is because the government is paying $400 per gallon of fuel.
$400 per gallon.
Why so much? The cost includes shipping, which sometimes includes the pricetag of a helicopter flight. Sending fuel by helicopter is woefully inefficient, because it uses up almost as much fuel as it carries.
Speaking to the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, House Appropriations chairman John Murtha (D-PA) said the figure was worrisome and we started looking into it.
Afghanistan is also landlocked, meaning that fuel must be transported in ways that stretch the limits of economic reason.
Because the country has no seaports, fuel is shipped to Karachi, in Pakistan, then carried across land by commercial trucks through Afghanistan. For remote bases, gasoline is sometimes transported by air.
One of the most expensive ways to supply fuel is by transporting it in bladders carried by helicopter; the amount that can be flown at one time can barely satisfy the need for fuel, the Hill notes.
The paper notes that the $400 pricetag is referred to in Pentagon argot as the fully burdened cost of fuel.
The governments Defense Energy Support Center provides fuel to the military at $2.78 per gallon, the conveyance of which then grows exponentially more expensive as it travels through dangerous combat zones.
Gen. James Conway, who runs the Marine Corps, told a Navy forum that perilous risky routes up gasoline that originally cost $1.04 gallon up to $400.
These are fairly major problems for us, Conway was quoted as saying. (Raw Story, John Byrne, 10.16.2009)