The Defense Department today released an implementation plan for cutting energy consumption in military operations.
Officials released a strategy in June outlining the need for energy conservation in military operations. In the plan released today, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta reiterates that the department must do its part to reduce U.S. fuel consumption not only to save money, but also to have less reliance on foreign oil and to improve security for U.S. forces who transport fuel into battle spaces.
"Energy security means a reliable, secure and affordable supply of energy for military missions, today and in the future," the secretary said.
The implementation plan outlines a three-part strategy of reducing the demand for energy, securing diverse options beyond fossil fuels, and building energy security considerations into all military planning.
"This is a question of making sure the whole department is executing this strategy and using energy to support military operations better and interoperable and in a way that supports the whole department better," said Sharon E. Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs.
The plan creates a Defense Operational Energy Board to oversee the department's progress. Military services and DOD agencies are to report to the board on their energy consumption last year and projected consumption for the next five years, the plan says. The board will work with the services and agencies on actions needed to improve their consumption baselines.
The services have reported goals for:
-- The Army to have 16 "Net Zero" installations by 2020 and 25 by 2030 -- installations that do not use more energy or water than they produce and reduce waste by recycling;
-- The Navy to reduce fuel consumption afloat by 15 percent by 2020;
-- The Air Force to increase aviation energy efficiency by 10 percent by 2020; and
-- The Marine Corps to increase energy efficiency on the battlefield by 50 percent by 2025, and, as a result, reduce daily fuel consumption per Marine by 50 percent in the same time.
The combatant commands will then report to the board on how they guide their forces to improve energy performance and efficiency, such as the ability to field fuel quickly and the use of alternative energy technologies.
The board is to develop departmentwide energy performance metrics in consultation with the DOD components and based on consumption baselines.
The assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering is to assess the department's gaps in energy science and technology and report recommendations to the board.
The plan also calls for:
-- Improving operational energy security at fixed installations;
-- Promoting the development of alternative fuels;
-- Incorporating energy security considerations into requirements and acquisitions; and
-- Adapting policy, doctrine, military education and combatant command activities to support reduced demand of energy.
"Even though the strategy and implementation plan is new," Burke said, "the department has been making progress for some time in using less energy - more fight for less fuel. We haven't been standing still on this."
Soldiers and Marines have reduced their energy consumption in Afghanistan by using solar rechargeable batteries, solar microgrids, more efficient tents and better fixed shelters, Burke said. Also, she added, the Army is using generators at its forward operating bases that are 20 percent more efficient, and become even more efficient by being wired together. The Navy, too, has made good progress by incorporating energy considerations into its acquisitions process, Burke said.
Less demand for energy and more conservation lessens the risk to troops to transport fuel through battle zones, she said.
"When you're focused on the fight, the most important thing is that the energy be there -- and that's how it should be," Burke said. "But people also are beginning to understand there is a cost to using and moving that much fuel."
Stateside, Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colo., as well as the Oregon National Guard, are showing progress toward the Army's Net Zero goal, the plan released today says.
"There's a lot of good things going on, and a lot more needs to happen," Burke said. The department's energy conservation effort, she added, is both a challenge and an opportunity. "Energy ... shapes our missions, and we can shape it," she said.
As part of the implementation plan, Panetta wrote that the rising global demand for energy, changing geopolitics and new threats will make the cost and availability of energy even less certain in the future.
"Energy security is an imperative - our economic well-being and international interests depend on it," he said.
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