By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Defense Department’s announcement of $18 million to fund six military programs designed to reduce energy demand is primarily about increasing military effectiveness, a senior Pentagon official said.
“The real reason to do this is for military effectiveness to give our forces better tools, better capability and less risk,” said Sharon E. Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs.
Though one of the outcomes will be that the department will save money, she added, “this is ultimately about giving our forces a better capability, taking risk out of the system, [and] putting fewer lives at risk moving fuel around.”
DOD teams representing the military services will lead the programs, Burke said.
“What these six programs focus on is reducing the demand for energy on the battlefield,” she explained. “How do you actually get the job done with less energy — with less fuel, more to the point?”
Burke’s office provided the following details on the programs:
— The Innovative Cooling Equipment Development/Demonstration Program will receive $2.5 million as it seeks to reduce fuel consumption for heating and cooling by 10 to 30 percent, translating to fewer fuel convoys on the battlefield and reduced risk;
— The Navy Expeditionary Technology Transition Program is slated to receive $3.19 million for research aimed at making significant advances in heating and cooling technologies to reduce fuel consumption for heating and cooling by 20 to 50 percent;
— The Advanced, Energy Efficient Shelter Systems for Contingency Basing and Other Applications program will receive $5.997 million as its program team works to demonstrate and transition shelter systems that will reduce the heating and cooling required by 50 percent while providing improved capabilities and quality of life;
— The Super Energy Efficient Containerized Living Unit Design and Development program will receive $1 million as the program team works to redesign existing containerized living units and to develop a new highly efficient units, beginning in Djibouti, where they seek to reduce energy use in renovated units by 54 to 82 percent;
— The Transformative Reductions in Operational Energy Consumption program is slated to receive $3.85 million as it works to identify and assess new and existing technologies that would reduce the energy demand of expeditionary outposts in tropical environments. Its goal will be to reduce total energy use of forward operating bases in these environments by 50 percent in 2016; and
— The Operation Enduring Freedom Energy Initiative Proving Ground program will garner $1.425 million as it works to establish a baseline for energy and fuel use in expeditionary operations in Afghanistan as it seeks to rapidly analyze the effect of energy-related technologies on fuel consumption and determine which provide the highest operational impact and the best return on investment for deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom.
“So all of these programs are looking at how to lighten the fuel sustainment, lighten the footprint, for our deployed forces,” Burke said.
“The reason that we chose this is there have been a number of really important studies, including one done by the Marine Corps, and one done by the [Army] Corps of Engineers for me,” she explained. “[These studies] identified that we’re wasting a huge amount of fuel on the battlefield, and that a lot of it goes to generators and to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.”
Burke noted one study said 75 percent of the generator power goes to air conditioning and heating, while another demonstrated “anywhere from 20 percent to upwards of 50 percent of the fuel used at any given location in places like Afghanistan may be going to generators and heating and cooling.”
She also cited a Marine Corps study from 2011 stating heating and air conditioning accounted for 13 percent of its total fuel demand in Afghanistan and 46 percent of its electrical demands.
“So a lot of it’s wasting, and it’s a huge target area,” Burke said. “But it’s not an area that the department has focused a lot of research, development, testing and evaluation in. So that was why we wanted to target these specific areas.”
Burke noted the funding of these programs is just one part of the Defense Department’s efforts to improve energy use toward a more effective and capable force.
“This is a research, development, test and evaluation effort,” she said. “But we’re also seeing this in the requirements process, the acquisition process, in contracting [and] in rapid fielding to forces in the fight.
“We’re doing all this because we really think this will help us meet the defense mission,” she continued, “particularly, the changing defense mission, as we go forward. So this is part of a broader effort across the department.”