Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Most Strategic Resource

If there is a single irreplaceable fuel running the Unites States' war machine, that fuel is coffee. Ewan McGregor's character in Blackhawk Down gripes about it in this clip, but he probably doesn't realize how vital his role is.

Entropic Memes has some fascinating excerpts and commentary on a 1951 DoD report about procurement and consumption of "The Essential Beverage" in the military. Most interesting to me is the military's acknowledgment of coffee's status as the only major military supply which cannot be substituted for, and which the United States is not capable of producing.

I can say from personal experience that an interruption in coffee supplies would be absolutely devastating to productivity and morale both in theater and in garrison. The only real change in this situaion since 1951 is the recent boom in the popularity of caffeinated energy drinks. Coffee is still king on the FOB, but outside the wire our soldiers are being fuelled by Rip-It, an energy drink company that has resurrected a time-honored marketing plan: donate boatloads of your product to the "war effort" in order to gain total saturation of a captive market. Those customers then return home to spread the word; it's viral marketing in the "Spanish influenza" sense of viral.

1 comment:

Shane said...

The thing is, there's no way that we'll be able to explain to civilians exactly how much operations are fueled by caffeine.

I explained to a friend of mine who isn't in my job field what my shop does in theater. My explanation was simply "Our office is like a factory that takes coffee beans and water as input and produces actionable intelligence as output." I myself average about one 12-cup pot per shift, 7 days a week.

Fun fact - Ripit cases have NSN numbers, making it easy for supply sergeants to order them in theater. THAT my friend is the real marketing strategy - to get NSNs and put ads into Stars and Stripes.