Armed With Science

DOD Recognizes Importance of Environment to Readiness

April 22, 2019 | BY David Vergun

For more than half a century, the annual Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards have recognized the extraordinary efforts of service members and civilians across the Defense Department for protecting the environment, human health and the nation's natural and cultural resources. Environmental stewardship enables the DOD to enhance military readiness capabilities, strengthen alliances and increase efficiencies for greater performance and affordability.

A wind turbine and solar arrays grace desert.
Turbine Tower
A wind turbine towers nearly 300 feet above the nearby Stirling solar array at Tooele Army Depot, Utah, March 22, 2016.
Photo By: John Prettyman, Army
VIRIN: 160322-A-AN535-027

The 2019 awards were announced April 22 to coincide with the nation's observance of Earth Day. In the spring of 1970, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin created Earth Day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's website, and in December 1970, Congress authorized the EPA's creation.

Military Recognizes Importance

Each of the military services have energy and environmental agencies that monitor these efforts and there have been many important success stories including:

1
Navy's Great Green Fleet
The Navy's John C. Stennis Strike Group, which consists of an aircraft carrier and supporting vessels such as cruisers and destroyers, began using beef tallow provided by Midwest farmers mixed with marine diesel fuel to power all of its ships except the carrier, which is nuclear powered. The project was completed in 2016 and the strike group was dubbed the Great Green Fleet.
Ships sail the sea.
Set Sail
The aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of the Philippine Sea, June 18, 2016.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke
VIRIN: 160618-N-OI810-085C
2
Army's ''Net Zero'' Strategy
At 17 of its installations, the Army has initiated what it calls a "Net Zero" strategy. That strategy means each installation will soon produce as much electricity and water as it uses and will eliminate solid waste disposal. This approach is designed to make installations less reliant on the outside grid or water supply, should there be an outage. It will also lower costs. For example, Fort Drum, New York, is now composting or recycling its waste.
Solar panels grace a hillside.
Solar Panels
Solar panels were erected atop the Lichtenberg Tennis Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The photo was taken on Oct. 18, 2012, at the start of the Army’s energy drive, termed "Net Zero."
Photo By: Nicole Ciaramella, Army
VIRIN: 121018-A-CE999-001C
3
Air Force's ''Energy Flight Plan''
In 2017, the Air Force initiated what it dubbed the "Energy Flight Plan." A whopping 86 percent of the Air Force's energy consumption is from aircraft; the rest is used for operating bases and vehicles. To reduce aircraft fuel consumption, the service is looking at improved training and operations, as well as using alternative aviation fuel blends and better aircraft designs.
A man operates fuel truck hose.
Force Fuel
Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Henry, a fuels apprentice with the 182nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, refuels a C-130H Hercules aircraft at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill., March 27, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer
VIRIN: 190327-Z-EU280-1024C

Click to read about the 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards.