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- The U.S. Army released a 2022 climate strategy document that says that "fully electric tactical vehicles are still years into the future."
Tactical vehicles transport troops or fuel and are different from combat vehicles such as tanks.
An Army spokesperson told PolitiFact that the Army is focusing the strategy on tactical wheeled vehicles, not tanks.
Former President Donald Trump said at a recent New Hampshire rally that President Joe Biden is imposing his climate agenda on the U.S. military.
"The worst thing is they want to make our Army tanks all electric," Trump said Dec. 16 in Durham.
Trump said the vehicles will be used "as we blast our way through enemy territory in an environmentally friendly manner." He added that Biden puts "environmental maniacs first."
The U.S. Army has outlined a strategy to transition to electric vehicles, but it begins with the nontactical fleet — which includes commercially available vehicles such as sedans, station wagons, utility vehicles and trucks — and some goals are decades away. Army spokesperson Ellen Lovett told PolitiFact that the Army is focusing strategy on tactical wheeled vehicles, not tanks.
"There is no goal to fully electrify every single vehicle in the fleet by 2050," said Fabian Villalobos, an engineer at the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan research organization that has an Army research division.
The U.S. Army released a 2022 climate strategy that says "fully electric tactical vehicles are still years into the future." Villalobos said tactical vehicles carry troops or fuel and are different from combat vehicles such as tanks.
The strategy includes a timeline to add:
An all-electric light-duty nontactical vehicle fleet by 2027.
An all-electric nontactical vehicle fleet by 2035.
Hybrid-drive tactical vehicles by 2035.
Fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050, and the necessary charging infrastructure.
The strategy document doesn’t mention tanks.
Villalobos said he currently knows of no plans to introduce or prototype an electric tank.
"Tanks are simply too heavy to be fully electrified at this time, but hybrids may be possible," as demonstrated by prototyping efforts, Villalobos said.
The strategy aims to maximize efficiency in warfighting logistics, Michael Knickerbocker, a U.S. Navy surface warfare officer, wrote in a 2022 op-ed when he was a federal executive fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin.
Military experts told us that electric vehicle advantages include:
Reducing dependency on foreign adversaries for fuel.
Fewer front-lines trips and less risk. If less fuel needs to be delivered to the new vehicles on front lines, soldiers make fewer delivery trips and reduce their risk of harm.
Stealthier travel without emissions, smoke or noise that alert adversaries.
The Modern War Institute at West Point published a 2022 article that said the Army successfully piloted electric light-duty nontactical vehicles. But generally "the technology is not ready for tactical vehicles because it requires incredibly heavy and bulky infrastructure for power generation and charging."
The article said critics of electrifying military vehicles ignore telectrification’s benefits, which "will help make our forces more lethal and save the military money."
The idea of introducing electric Army vehicles is not new or unique to the Biden administration. The Army entertained the idea of an electric "cannon-vehicle" as far back as 1995, Rand researchers wrote. In 2012, the Defense Department studied the possibility of adding nontactical electric vehicles.
When contacted for comment, a Trump campaign spokesperson sent news articles about the Biden administration’s goals for military electric vehicles, but none showed that the administration wants electric Army tanks.
The Trump campaign also cited a 2021 Military.com article that was published before the 2022 Army strategy. In it, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said tactical vehicles would first go to hybrid and nontactical vehicles on bases could transition directly to electric.
Trump said "they want to make our Army tanks all electric."
A 2022 Army climate strategy document sets a timeline for transitioning certain types of vehicles to electric over decades, with a goal of having fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050. The strategy document doesn’t mention tanks, and tactical vehicles are different from combat vehicles such as tanks.
We rate this statement False.
PolitiFact Senior Correspondent Louis Jacobson contributed to this fact-check.
RELATED: Climate change fact-checks
Rand blog, Do generals dream of electric tanks? Aug. 8, 2023
Bloomberg News, US Army’s electric tanks on hold as battery technology develops, June 20, 2023
U.S. Army, U.S. Army climate strategy, 2022
Modern Warfare Institute, The lethality case for electric military vehicles, Dec. 1, 2023
Factcheck.org, Trump’s false claim that U.S. military moving to electric tanks, Nov. 11, 2023
The New York Times, Trump misleads on energy and jobs at Houston rally, Nov. 3, 2023
Military.com, Electric military vehicles are part of Biden climate agenda Pentagon says, Nov. 9, 2021
Washington Examiner, Biden’s latest botch: Electric military vehicles, May 8, 2023
Inside the Army, At AUSA the future is (hybrid) electric, Oct. 17, 2022
Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Statement before the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, April 19, 2023
Michael Knickerbocker, United States Navy surface warfare officer and federal executive fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Op-ed in The Hill, Military EVs are a necessary awakening — not ‘wokeness’ April 27, 2022
Army Times, US Army ready to pursue electric light recon vehicle, Oct. 9, 2023
Donald Trump, Truth Social post, Sept. 8, 2023
Email interview, Fabian E. Villalobos, engineer at the RAND Corporation and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, Dec. 18, 2023
Email interview with John Pike, director of globalsecurituy.org, Dec. 19, 2023
Email interview with Lance Janda, military historian at Cameron University, Dec. 20, 2023
Email interview, Ellen C. Lovett, Army Public Affairs Weapons, Environment and Technology Team, Dec. 19, 2023
Email interview, Steven Cheung, Donald Trump campaign spokesperson, Dec. 18, 2023
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