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United States Department of Defense … or Empire of Defense? Sohbet Karbuz Venezuela


Monday, February 06, 2006

Former head of non-OECD energy statistics section of the International Energy Agency (Paris), Dr. Sohbet Karbuz writes: Which government agency is one of the world’s largest landlords and has a budget that could be ranked as the world’s 17th largest economy and could be ranked as the world’s 31st largest oil consumer and the world’s biggest purchaser of oil?

The United States Department of Defense (DoD)!

And here is why:

Fact 1: The US DoD is one of the world’s largest landlords

“The Department of Defense is one of the world’s largest landlords with a physical plant consisting of more than 571,900 facilities (buildings, structures and utilities) located on more than 3,740 sites, on nearly 30 million acres” (121 400 km2) says the Base Structure Report for Fiscal Year 2005 of the US Department of Defense. The report also states that 98% of this acreage is located in the United States or US Territories. This means that US DoD owns or leases an area slightly smaller than Mississippi, or half of the UK.

However, this is not the complete picture. Because, in order to qualify for entry in the report the site located in a foreign country must be larger than 10 acres or have a Plant Replacement Value greater than $10 million. Moreover, it must be owned or leased by the DoD. Facilities provided by other nations at foreign locations are not included. It is because of this that one does not see all the US military bases abroad reported by DoD.

Fact 2: If the DoD were a country it would be 17th in the world’s GDP ranking.

Defense outlays (actual expenditures) as a share of GDP is 3.0 in fiscal year 2006 ($424.4 billion). This figure does not include supplemental appropriations to cover costs of the war in Iraq. The budget request for the total national defense program (DoD activities and defense activities in the DOE and other federal agencies) is $441.8 billion in budget authority and $447.4 billion in outlays. [1] This amount would, indeed, make the DoD the 17th highest in the world ranking of Gross Domestic Product by country. Note that, CIA World Factbook 2005 lists only 163 countries.

Defense budget of the US in percent is said to go down but it is the absolute value which is important. However, Air Force Association does not agree with that. They want a bigger share which means much more money.

Here is what they say in their web site: “Even though the nation is engaged in a deadly Global War on Terrorism, we are committing only about 4% of GDP to the Armed Forces. By comparison, in 1986, during the Cold War, our nation devoted 6.2% of the GDP to defense. In 1968, during the Vietnam War, we devoted 9.4% of GDP to defense. It is time to rethink the level of resources for fighting the war and funding the services” What is not said, however, is that during the Vietnam War total national defense outlays were less than $100 billion, but now over $400 billion.

Fact 3: The US DoD is the largest oil consumer in the US, and 31st largest in the world.

“Military fuel consumption makes the Department of Defense the single largest consumer of petroleum in the U.S” [2]

“Military fuel consumption for aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities makes the DoD the single largest consumer of petroleum in the U.S” [3]

According to the US Defense Energy Supprt Center Fact Book 2004, in Fiscal Year 2004, the US military fuel consumption increased to 144 million barrels. This is about 40 million barrels more than the average peacetime military usage.

By the way, 144 million barrels makes 395 000 barrels per day, almost as much as daily energy consumption of Greece. Accoding to the 2005 CIA World Factbook rankings there is only 30 countries in the world that consumes more than 400,000 barrels a day.

Fact 4: American GI is the most energy-consuming soldier ever seen on the field of war

“The Army calculated that it would burn 40 million gallons of fuel in three weeks of combat in Iraq, an amount equivalent to the gasoline consumed by all Allied armies combined during the four years of World War I.” [2]

In May 2005 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Robert Bryce gives another example; “The Third Army (of General Petton) had about 400,000 men and used about 400,000 gallons of gasoline a day. Today the Pentagon has about a third that number of troops in Iraq yet they use more than four times as much fuel.”

Fact 5: The US military is the biggest purchaser of oil in the world.

In 1999 Almanac of the Defense Logistic Agency’s news magazine Dimensions it was stated that the DESC “purchases more light refined petroleum product than any other single organization or country in the world. With a $3.5 billion annual budget, DESC procures nearly 100 million barrels of petroleum products each year. That’s enough fuel for 1,000 cars to drive around the world 4,620 times.”

That budget increased a lot over the years. The US DoD spent $8.2 billion on energy in fiscal year 2004.

“In fiscal 2005, DESC will buy about 128 million barrels of fuel at a cost of $8.5 billion, and Jet fuel constitutes nearly 70% of DoD’s petroleum product purchases.”[4]

For some, this is not enough though. “Because DOD’s consumption of oil represents the highest priority of all uses, there will be no fundamental limits to DOD’s fuel supply for many, many decades.” [5]

Sohbet Karbuz

Dr. Sohbet Karbuz (a Turkish citizen), is former head of non-OECD energy statistics section of the International Energy Agency (Paris). Before joining the IEA he held academic positions in Germany and Austria. He was also a former secretary general of the Foundation for Economic, Technological & Social Research Center (Istanbul, Turkey). He currently works for an industry association. The views presented in the article are his own and should not in any way be interpreted as shared by his current or former employers.
He can be contacted at


[1] T. A. Mehuron, The Defense Budget at A Glance, Air Force Magazine, April 2005.
[2] Presentation by American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Red Cavaney held at the USAF/API Awards Banquet ˆ Arlington, Virginia, July 15, 2004.
[3] E. C. Aldbridge and D. M. Etter testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on June 5, 2001.
[4] American Forces Information Service News Article by G. J. Gilmore, DoD Has Enough Petroleum Products for Anti-Terror War, August 11, 2005.
[5] More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, The Defense Science Board Task Force on Improving Fuel Efficiency of Weapons Platforms, January 2001ņol

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