06/27/2011 02:39 pm ET | Updated Aug 27, 2011

Iraq And Afghanistan War Debt Includes Steep Price Tag For Air Conditioning

This week, Beltway lawmakers have ramped up the efforts to negotiate the terms of how and when the nation's debt ceiling will be raised, with President Barack Obama reportedly stepping into the fray to bring about a deal. But once everyone has decided on how the debt ceiling will be renovated, will the stifling DC summer heat still make it uncomfortable to enter the "debt room" to marvel at the new "debt ceiling?" Perhaps we should relocate our debt to Iraq or Afghanistan, where a lot of it is going anyway and where we are at least spending a king's ransom on air conditioning. NPR's "All Things Considered" has the news:

The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion.

That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.

"When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world -- escorting, command and control, medevac support -- when you throw all that infrastructure in, we're talking over $20 billion," Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq.

See, this can be costly because the fuel that's used to power an air conditioner in remote parts of Afghanistan must travel by convoy over "improved goat trails," which is often a 3-week, 800 mile endeavor. And "Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack."

Luckily, according to Anderson, there is a "simple policy" that, if enacted, could have a "profound impact":

"A simple policy signed by the secretary of defense -- a one- or two-page memo, saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in Iraq and Afghanistan -- would have a profound impact."

A simple policy saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in America might also have a profound impact, say godless socialists.

[Hat tip: ThinkProgress]

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