Breaking the Tether of Fuel

I can't believe I've hardly ever linked to this classic article:

"Breaking the tether of fuel"
by Naval Research Advisory Committee Future Fuels Study Panel
Marine Corps Gazette / reprinted in Military Review Jan-Feb/2007

This is what makes it so great:
"The most telling characterization of fuel usage came from the Marine Corps 2003 Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Study. This study showed that almost 90 percent of the fuel used by MEF ground vehicles would accrue to tactical wheeled vehicles (TWVs), including HMMWVs, 7-ton trucks, and the logistics vehicle system. Moreover, the study showed conclusively that combat vehicles (e.g., M1A1 tanks, light armored vehicles, and assault amphibious vehicles), although fuel guzzlers individually, as a fleet consume a relatively minor fraction of the fuel."
This is a hugely important insight about mechanized forces logistics, and very much counter-intuitive. I've seen a great many articles, discussions and comments about AFVs get this wrong.

Their conclusion
"Consequently, TWVs became the primary target for fuel economizing."
was a classic Pareto analysis response. I do not like Pareto analysis because it's a simplistic tool (smart people don't need such tools, not-so-smart people fail with such tools when faced with exceptions). For example, the simplistic advice to pay attention to the few factors that cause 80% of the problems may be wrong if your predecessors have done this already and left room for improvement only among the factors causing 20% of the problems.
It's nevertheless a good idea to remember that it's the full motorization, not the attention-gathering AFVs, that causes about 90% of fuel consumption in ground manoeuvre forces (and almost 100% in an army overall !).


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