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Remarks at the Department of Defense Operational Energy Strategy Rollout

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III, Pentagon Briefing Room, Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thank you for joining us today. 

I am pleased to be here with Sharon Burke, our Assistant Secretary for Operational Energy. 

Today we are releasing the Department’s first ever operational energy strategy—Energy for the Warfighter. Before turning the podium over to Sharon, I would like to say a few words about the importance of energy to our national security mission. 

As you know, Secretary Gates and I have been consistent in speaking about the need to better manage the defense enterprise, adapt our forces to emerging threats, and sustain a strong and capable military. Our use of energy cuts across each of these issues. It affects military planners, acquisition managers, and the warfighter alike. The way we build energy into our operations is a core part of fighting and wining the nation’s wars.

As a Department, we account for 80% of the federal government’s energy use and about 1% of total consumption nationwide. Last year alone, we spent $15 billion on energy. Three-fourths of that – over $13 billion – was on energy for military operations, or what we call ‘operational energy.’

Our expenditures on energy are way up. With increasing volatility in energy markets and the tightening of global supplies, we are spending 225% more on gasoline than we did just  a decade ago. The money we spend on energy not only costs the taxpayer. It costs the warfighter. A dollar spent on energy costs is a dollar not spent on other warfighting priorities.

There is also a clear connection between innovation in energy technology and the ability to project military power. This connection is not just about dollars, but about military effectiveness.

Whether it is deploying and sustaining our forces at the front, or powering the mission critical facilities they depend upon in the rear, everything we do—every mission we perform—requires significant amounts of energy. Ensuring our forces have access to the energy they need, when they need it, is not easy. 

Our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq have a long logistical tail. Nearly 80% percent of land convoys in Afghanistan are used for fuel. We haul these supplies along roads that are laced with IEDs and prone to ambush. Insurgents attacked 1,100 convoys in 2010 alone. The threats to our supply lines reflect how the nature of war is changing. 

Rather than confronting our forces head on, adversaries are increasingly employing asymmetric tactics. And energy can be a soft target. Whether it is IED attacks employed against supply convoys in theater or cyber attacks aimed at our critical infrastructure here at home, our ability to sustain military operations is increasingly threatened. Looking to the future, the proliferation of anti-access capabilities will turn many areas – previously considered sanctuaries – into contested battle spaces.

These new threats make energy even more important.The less of it we need, the more operationally resilient we will be. The nature of war also is changing in a second way. 

Conflict is evolving from a focus on intense but short periods of combat that end decisively to longer, more drawn-out engagements. As conflicts become longer in duration, and more expeditionary in nature, the amount of fuel it takes to keep forces in the field has become a significant vulnerability. 

Taken together, the risks and costs associated with our energy use mean that we must change the way we manage energy on the battlefield, and strive to reduce demand at all levels of our forces.

Addressing this challenge is the goal of our Operational Energy Strategy. In short, DoD needs to address energy needs as a broad military challenge. Supply is limited. Cost is increasing. And with the changing nature of war, our current energy technology is not optimized for the battlefield of today or tomorrow.

To attack this challenge, Sharon and her team have devised a policy approach that increases the energy efficiency of our operations, limits the risks our forces face as they use, transport, and store energy, and minimizes the amount of defense dollars we spend consuming energy. This strategy is good for both taxpayers and warfighters—and it is long overdue. 

By reducing demand, expanding and securing supply, and integrating energy security into our future force, we will not only increase our military effectiveness, but we will lower our costs. We will also better align the Department with our national goal of energy efficiency and, ultimately, energy independence.

Thank you.

Now, Sharon will outline how we’re going to do this.  

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