By Alan W. Dowd

Army Green
The Army plans to lease up to 4,000 neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) as part of what the Army calls “a far-reaching energy security strategy designed to save energy and money and to wean the Army from fossil fuels.”

The NEVs will be used on base to conduct security patrols, transport passengers and carry out maintenance and delivery services, according to an Army press release. The NEVs will enable the Army to “reduce its fossil fuel consumption by 11.5 million gallons over a six-year period.”

The initial NEV allotment comes from a division of Chrysler, but participation in the program is open to other companies.

“The army can and will be a catalyst for greater production and innovation by renewable and alternative energy producers,” says Paul Bollinger, deputy secretary for energy and partnerships and senior energy executive for the Army.

Protecting the Force
The near-catastrophe of Flight 1549, which ditched in the Hudson River after a flock of birds destroyed its engines, highlights the dangers posed by bird strikes—dangers the Air Force faces around the clock and around the world. In fact, the Armed Force Press Service reports that the Air Force experienced 4,000 bird strikes in 2008. However, none resulted in death (at least not the death of any humans).

The Air Force employs a range of countermeasures to mitigate the dangers caused by bird strikes, including:

  • “habitat alteration,” which makes the areas around airfields uninviting to birds by keeping grass cut short, filling in low spots and removing perching areas
  • dogs, which chase birds away at Andrews AFB
  • falcons in Kyrgyzstan and hawks in England, which scare or otherwise dispose of flocks
  • fireworks to frighten birds.

Battle of the Bulge
Citing a new Pentagon study, USAToday reports the number of American troops diagnosed as obese or overweight “has more than doubled since the start of the Iraq War.”

From 1998 to 2002, between one and two military personnel out of 100 were deemed overweight. Since 2003, one of 20 have been diagnosed as “clinically overweight.”

According to the study, “stress and return from deployment were the most frequently cited reasons” for obesity and high weight gain.

Of course, another crucial factor must be the prevalence of obesity among the recruited population. Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commanding general of U.S. Army Accessions Command, notes that “Of 32 million 17- to 24-year-olds, 3.2 million of them are childhood obese—that’s 10 percent. Several years ago, one in 20 Americans was obese, but that’s closing in soon on one in four.”

Name Game
A bill to change the name of the Department of the Navy to the “Department of the Navy and Marine Corps” is gaining momentum. After languishing, in one form or another, for eight years, the bill—HR24—now has 201 cosponsors in the House and has been introduced in the Senate by a Marine Corps veteran, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

“It’s symbolic, but I think it’s important,” as the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), told Marine Corps News.

To follow the bill’s progress, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/.

The World of Tomorrow
The National Intelligence Council, an advisory arm to the Intelligence Community for “midterm and long-term strategic thinking,” predicts in its Global Trends 2025 report that the power of “non-state actors” such as businesses, tribes, religious organizations and criminal networks will increase in the coming decade-plus. In addition, global wealth will shift from West to East, even as the United States remains the “single most powerful country,” albeit a less dominant power.

The report argues that “opportunities for mass-casualty terrorist attacks” using chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons will increase. In addition, the prospect of “resource nationalism” could bring great powers into conflict. Rapidly aging populations in the developed world, energy and food constraints and climate change also present a range of problems, according to the report.

On the positive side, the report suggests that the appeal of terrorism could lessen in the coming years, as economic growth opens new opportunities in the underdeveloped world. Plus, the report envisions the rise of “regional clusters” that could help streamline standards for a range of 21st-century technologies, including: biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and the attendant intellectual property issues.

Read more at www.dni.gov/nic/PDF_2025/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf

A Glimpse at Reapportionment
If Census estimates hold, eight states will lose congressional seats in 2010, and six will pick up seats. The losers are Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Utah and Texas are the projected winners, as USAToday reports. Texas is primed to gain the most: three seats.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.