Department of Defense (DOD) Operational Energy
Operational energy is concerned with getting energy to the warfighter. Operational energy applies to different energy sources such as batteries used by soldiers to power their equipment to fuel used by aircraft, ground vehicles, ships, and contingency bases. Fuel availability impacts miles driven, hours flown, days at sea, and overall military readiness. An estimated 75 percent of DOD’s energy use is for operational use and the remaining 25 percent is used for installation energy.
Historically, military initiatives focused on reducing energy costs associated with DOD’s fixed installations, but they do not have near the impact as improving the energy performance of major weapons systems. Put more simply, a gallon of gas costs the average American more than two dollars a gallon but consider how much that same gallon costs when you have to transport it to the battlefield front line overseas.
Operational energy strategy is concerned with two primary goals:
Operational performance considerations take priority over energy efficiency in major weapons systems, but the efficiency of a weapons system must be “designed-in” as part of the requirements and development processes. Inefficient, energy intensive weapons systems create a burden on the logistics system and every operational energy dollar saved can be used to provide additional warfighting capabilities elsewhere. DOD’s energy usage and energy logistical support requirements play a central role in its decision-making and business processes.
DOD going forward is primarily concerned with future warfighting capability by identifying and reducing logistics and operational risks from operational energy vulnerabilities; and enhancing the mission effectiveness of the current force through updated equipment and improvements in training, exercises, and operations.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment is the office that works to enhance military readiness while mitigating risk in the supply and use of energy in operations. DOD requested more than $2.9 billion for the execution of operational energy initiatives in FY 2019. These investments procure new or upgrade existing equipment, improve propulsion, and adapt plans, concepts, and wargames to account for increasing risks to logistics and sustainment, and enhance the role of energy considerations in developing new capabilities.
The U.S. Marine Corps Expenditure Energy Office (E2O) directs the Marine Corps’ energy strategy across all warfighting functions. E2O works closely with the combat and technology development communities and serves as the proponent for Expeditionary Energy in the force development process. Additionally, E2O is tasked with advising the Marine Requirements Oversight Council on all energy and resource-related requirements, acquisitions, and programmatic decisions.
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment provides operational energy policy, guidance and oversight across the Army enterprise. The Operational Energy team coordinates with the other services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to optimize energy use and distribution on the battlefield. One of the 2018 National Defense Strategy goals is to build a more lethal force, including “a competitive approach to force development and a consistent, multiyear investment to restore warfighting readiness.” To achieve this goal, the Army is investing in operational energy systems and processes that extend soldiers’ range, endurance, flexibility, mobility and resilience.
To view the Department of Defense Energy Annual report, click here.
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