Here is a good summary of the Department of Defense's single-fuel concept.
In spite of the single-fuel concept, it appears that the Department of Defense recognizes the value of multi-fuel engines. The outboard engines used by the U.S. military are capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, Jet A, Jet B, JP-4, JP-5, and JP-8, among others.
Have to agree. Look at the start of Desert storm. The US bombed the crap out of Bagdad. Even using precision ordinances, the media (which by some odd reason was in Bagdad reporting hits) made political hay out of every missed target!
You remember the results, those infamous elite republican gaurds of Saddam that would put up a severe fight. Somehow the US military fell prey to the media and politicans. Now the best we can hope for is a technological edge to keep us in the game. The enemy jihadist can now just wait it out until the media propaganda turns public opinion. So I guess this research, if even belated and illogical must add some value to advancing our technology.
Respectfully, the only difference is how many maniacs must be killed to allow the reasonable people to assert themselves. Unfortunately, when you go past some arbitrary number, people start crying genocide. The thought that we can wage war in a way the respects our enemy's culture, when it is that culture that sustains them is asinine.
In the case of Sherman - Yes; it is easier when your enemy is rational, or shares some level of common culture that makes them more predicatable.
IMO, you set your goals to win the conflict and execute the mission to maximum effect until the enemy concedes or ceases to exist. The 'low impact' approach puts you into these protracted engagements where you still kill a lot of bad guys, but risk losing more friendlies. It also reduces the impact of the war to our own people, which politicians love. But then people begin to grow comfortable and even forget that we have a war going on aside from the monetary cost.
I think the trade off here is whether to simplify the fuel logistics tail or simplify fuel sourcing. I am as suprised as some of the other commenters that we haven't done this type of research back when JP-8 was developed.
My second ship had LM2500 Gas Turbines that could run JP-5 or diesel. We also had 5 diesel generators, that if I recall correctly, could run either fuel as well. Effieciency was not as big a driver as the price and availablility of fuel, but that was back in the late 80s and early 90s.
I hear what you are saying, Watashi, and on some level agree with you. But I think the military acting as an R&D institution, even if technology that's explored or invented doesn't make it into practical military application, is a worthwhile endeavor.
While General Sherman was a quite effective fighter at the time, the huge difference is that the enemy troops that he fought were fairly rational humans. They did not intend to die, they would choose to avoid death, in fact. Not that his enemies were chicken, or cowardly, but that they were rational.
The maniac jihadists that we are fighting tody are NOT RATIONAL human beings, but instead they are brainwashed maniacs, and many are devoid of any of the value of life that both Sherman AND his enemies felt. So the war is quite different now.
As for the "one fuel for all" drive, it certainly would be convenient if all the engines ran on the same fuel. My guess is that JP8 is a descendant of JP4, which ran both rockets and some tanks in the 1960s, as I recall. That stuff had been deemed OK for diesel engines of that era, although I don't know how they handled the issue of lubrication by fuel. It did not work very well in spark-ignition engines, although it could be mixed with gasoline and run in some two-stroke motorcycles, at least in warm weather. It would probably work quite well in most diesel type engines, but it seems that the military needs to know just how well it would work.
A multi-fuel engine does have advantages. When the gains outweigh the costs and disadvantages, the multi-fuel engines will be adopted. With that, it is still not feasible that one engine can serve all needs.
You are right. A "one size fits all" is not a rational approach. Perhaps the article slightly misreported the actual goal. BMW is pursuing using a "one size" cylinder displacement for a variety of engines with varying number of cylinders.
In general, the military does not have a stirling record of powerplant innovations. For a look at how federal regulations crippled develoment of an advanced reciprocating aircraft engine in WWII read "Chrysler Aircraft Engines," by Kimble D. McCutcheon, 2012.
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