Report Details Military’s Energy Investments
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2012 In the second report of its kind, a top DOD official has certified that the Defense Department’s proposed 2013-2017 budget effectively funds initiatives to give troops better energy options.
Author Sharon E. Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, said the report, “Energy Investments for Military Operations: for Fiscal Year 2013,” is required in the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, the same legislation that created her office.
“The [report’s] most important message is that the department has a considerable investment in energy security for the purpose of improving military effectiveness and defense capabilities,” Burke told American Forces Press Service.
The department has long managed energy use in domestic facilities and has taken many steps to improve energy use, she added, “but before this office was created we really hadn’t looked at how we use energy in military operations, which is where we use 75 percent of our energy.”
“The innovative approach the Defense Department is taking to achieving greater operational efficiency and boosting combat effectiveness is exactly in line with our new defense strategy,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a statement.
“These investments in new energy technologies, more than 90 percent of which are for energy efficiency or energy- performance upgrades will enable our forces to operate longer and at greater distance while enhancing our energy security at home and, in many cases, reducing costs,” Panetta added.
Burke said the notion that energy is a warfighting asset is old and new.
“It’s as old as warfare to see logistics and supply lines as mission-critical elements and also as strategic and tactical assets that are both strengths and targets in a time of war,” she noted.
For the first operational energy certification report, published in January 2011, Burke said her office was just beginning to collect the required information.
This year Burke and her team worked with several offices in DOD including the comptroller, the military services, the Joint Staff and the Office of the Director for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, or CAPE, “for a fuller picture of how the department is investing in energy security,” she explained.
“It is a great step forward for the department to be able to document these investments,” Burke said.
In June 2011 DOD released its first Operational Energy Strategy, outlining how it could better use energy to support its strategic goals and the country’s energy security goals, lower warfighter risk and save taxpayer resources.
The strategy’s main goal is to promote the energy security of military operations in three ways, Burke said -- by reducing the demand for fuel, diversifying energy supplies and incorporating these considerations into building the future force.
For the report, Burke and her team scoured DOD’s budget to see how well the department’s energy investment matched these three elements.
Burke found that DOD is budgeting $1.6 billion for initiatives that will improve energy use and $9 billion in energy-security investments for the department across the five-year Future Years Defense Program, she said. These initiatives compare with $16.3 billion the department has budgeted for petroleum for military operations in 2013.
“What I found was that [the investments] track very well with the strategy,” she said. “About 90 percent of the investments will go to reduce demand for energy so to improve our energy performance and our energy efficiency. And the remaining 10 percent is mostly for alternative and renewable energy.”
Such investments pay for a range of efforts, from more efficient shelters and ruggedized solar devices that the Marines plan to deploy in Afghanistan, to engine upgrades for the KC-135 aerial refueling tanker, legacy improvements to equipment coming back from the war zone, microgrid installation and many more.
“Each year we’re getting better information, Burke said, “ … [and] financial commitments in this area are also increasing.”
Burke’s team also is getting better documentation of how the department actually uses and is planning to use energy.
The certification report for fiscal 2013 chronicles the department’s commitment to operational energy security, Burke said, and the report for 2014 will have even more complete information.
“We have seven specific targets as we implement the strategy,” she said. “As those targets are being met, we will have better information in certain areas.”
Burke’s certification report is not required to be public or to be released to Congress, she said.
“I’m only required to notify Congress if I decertify,” she added, “but I feel like it’s very important for people to have access to this information … so they can see where we’re actually making our commitments.”