Matters of Scale - Military Expenses: A Case Study

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Number of transport containers of military equipment the U.S. military shipped to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War
41000
Number of those containers that had to be opened at pierside to find out what was in them, due to lack of proper labeling
28000
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"Then, many [of the labeled containers] were hauled 2,000 miles out into the desert just to find that most of their contents really belonged to units near the ports." -Scott W. Conrad, Moving the Force: Desert Storm and Beyond, National Defense University, 1994
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Number of tank cannon rounds moved to the Gulf
220000
Number actually fired
3600
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"The Threat allocation process - determining how much ammunition is really needed to achieve objectives - has run amok. For example, there were 78 ammunition-laden ships still awaiting off-load the day the Gulf War ended, and of 3.2 million rounds of 155m howitzer shells moved to Saudi Arabia, 2.9 million had to be returned." -Scott W. Conrad
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Weight of the newest U.S. aircraft carrier
100,000 tons
Quantity of unused ammunition that was left in the sand after the Gulf War
250,000 tons
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"A Defense Lobbyist's Dream: Look for the Iraq Crisis to reopen the entire battle over Pentagon Cuts" -Headline in Newsweek, September 20, 1990
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If all the U.S. military vehicles sent to the Gulf for the ground war (mechanized divisions) traveled in a convoy one vehicle's length apart, the length of the convoy would have been
1,000 miles
If all the mail sent to U.S. troops during the Gulf War were loaded into pickup trucks 3 feet deep, and the trucks traveled in a convoy one truck's length apart, the length of the convoy would have been
120 miles
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"Saddam To the Rescue" -Headline in The Economist, August 18, 1990
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Sources: Scott W. Conrad, Moving the Force: Desert Storm and Beyond, McNair Paper 32 (Washington, D.C.: Institute For National Strategic Studies, December 1994).