Energy Conservation Moving Up Pentagon’s Agenda
DID has covered contracts that begin to illustrate the US military’s massive requirement for fuel, and also noted measures like wind power installations, the US Navy’s alternative energy projects, R&D efforts like camouflage solar structure surfaces from Konarka, Solar Integrated, et. al., the installation of fuel cells, and more. And how about this solar parking lot? Meanwhile, advanced green technologies like hybrid drive vehicles offer both fuel economy and stealth benefits in combat, a significant plus in the urban warfare scenarios that appear to be such a big part of future wars. The truth is that the military can’t live without fuel, but every gallon of it is both a logistics burden and a financial burden.
While some military items cannot realistically be converted, every conservation success or renewable energy conversion within the military’s jurisdiction makes it more deployable to the field, and more self-sufficient once there. Now add the fact that diversified “green infrastructure” lowers vulnerability to the kind of “system disruption” attacks one sees in Iraq, and the military/ security benefits become compelling. That means the military will be willing to invest in these technologies even when the dollars and cents case alone may be in question. It’s a trend that has already started… and it’s about to pick up speed.
Energy Trends and Their Implications
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD] is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Projection Forces subcommittee. He has been talking about Peak Oil issues for about a year now, and recently discussed a September 2005 Army Corps of Engineers Report entitled “Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations” [PDF] in the House. Part of its conclusions section notes:
“One thing is certain: it is going to be challenging and comprehensive approaches to energy issues are required. Uncertainty cannot be an excuse for inaction. Integrated resource planning is required and issues must be addressed from both the supply and demand viewpoint. The U.S. cannot drill its way to energy independence nor can we do it all with renewables and efficiency. A secure, reliable, and cost effective energy system must be robust, diverse, and aggressively incorporate renewables, energy efficiency, and intelligent use of fossil fuels.
The days of inexpensive, convenient, abundant energy sources are quickly drawing to a close… We must act now to develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to transition to other energy sources. Policy changes, leap ahead technology breakthroughs, cultural changes, and significant investment is requisite for this new energy future. Time is essential to enact these changes. The process should begin now.
Our best options for meeting future energy requirements are energy efficiency and renewable sources. Energy efficiency is the least expensive, most readily available, and environmentally friendly way to stretch our current energy supplies. This ensures that we get the most benefit from every Btu used. It involves optimizing operations and controls to minimize waste and infusing state of the art technology and techniques where appropriate. The potential savings for the Army is about 30 percent of current and future consumption. Energy efficiency measures usually pay for themselves over the life cycle of the application, even when only face value costs are considered.”
On March 14, 2006, During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), Rep. Bartlett was questioning Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who said:
“We expect a guidance to come out in a week to deal with the energy situation and what steps we can take to address the issue.” Though the QDR did not explicitly deal with the military’s use of oil, Defense News reports England saying that “toward the end of the QDR, these concerns became an issue for all of us.” Their report also notes a December 14, 2005 memo by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which called on the Pentagon to create a centralized point in the Department to work on energy conservation.
The Pentagon is the single largest buyer of fuel in the United States, accounting for 1.7% of total national consumption. See DID’s March 28, 2006 article “Fuel & Energy Issues Continue to Get Spotlight in US Military” for more information about projected budgetary trends in this area.
Inter-Agency Event: “Energy: A Conversation About Our National Addiction”
As a further extension of these efforts, the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics will hold a series of conferences on energy use and conservation entitled “Energy: A Conversation About Our National Addiction. An inter-agency learning opportunity.” As the invite notes:
“The Energy Conversation series will bring high-level attention to this overarching national energy issue by providing a forum to engage senior leaders, academics and researchers, both inside and outside of government. The intent is to learn about all the good things that are already going on in both government and industry that might address these issues and to provoke new thinking.
Why is the DoD hosting this series? Just as the Defense Department played a critical role in forging the information revolution in past decades, so can the Department play a similar critical role in fueling the energy revolution in coming decades. Remember we are all players in addressing the efficiency, conservation and cost reduction of energy. And there are NO SILVER BULLETS. Come learn with us.
UPDATE: It was interesting to see Congressman Bartlett’s office quote and reference this article in its invitation.
- Former CIA director R. James Woolsey will lead off the series with “Energy, Security and the Long War of the 21st Century” on Monday evening, March 27, 2006 at the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City, VA.
- Rep. Bartlett [R-MD] is the Chair of the House Armed Service Committee’s Force Projection subcommittee. He will be the main speaker at the next event, which is an April 24, 2006 session on “Peak Oil.” Location TBD.
These presentations, audio files, et. al. can be found at the Cebrowski Institute’s web site, which will be updated for additional events in the series.
- US Naval War College – Cebrowski Institute’s web site. Includes transcripts et. al. from the ongoing “Energy Conversation” series, sponsored in part by the Pentagon.
- Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base (Feb 17/06) – War Without Oil: A Catalyst For True Transformation [PDF]. Thesis by Michael J. Hornitschek, Lt Col, USAF. Hat tip to the Defense Tech article by Stephen Trimble, “Oil Free by 2050,” who highlighted it as a notably visionary piece. Is the vision achievable at reasonable cost? Read the thesis and decide.
- US Army Corps of Engineers (September 2005) – Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations [PDF]
- DID – Commanders in Iraq Urgently Request Renewable Power Options.
- InsideDefense, via Military.com (Aug 11/06) – Renewable Energy Systems Wanted in Iraq.
- DID (March 28/06) – Fuel & Energy Issues Continue to Get Spotlight in US Military. Includes recent US military fuel use & cost figures.
- DID’s (March 17/06) – Energy Conservation Moving Up Pentagon’s Agenda.