White House Forum on Energy Security
White House Forum on Energy Security took place on April 26, 2011.
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman discussed the national security implications of America's oil dependency at a White House forum on energy security. The event was hosted by the Energy Department. Featured participants were former CIA Director John Deutch, former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who now heads the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress and former Chief of Staff for President Clinton.
If quality is bad then Watch it at C-SPAN
A DOD News Article Lynn: Defense-Energy Team Leads National Effort by Lisa Daniel gives a short summary.
He further added that “By taking technologies from labs to the battlefield, the Department of Energy can enroll its scientific ingenuity in the service of our nation’s most important national mission: national security…. By serving as a sophisticated first user and early customer for innovative energy technologies…. the military can jump-start their broader commercial adoption, just as we have done with jet engines, high-performance computing and the Internet”
He underlined that energy dependence has grown in the military, burdening budgets, logistics and individual service members. More than 70 percent of convoys in Afghanistan are used to transport fuel or water and are easy targets for insurgents’ roadside bombs. More than 3,000 U.S. troops and contractors have been killed or wounded protecting them. (Interestingly nobody mentions that more gallons of water is transported than fuel. More specifically 4 gallon water versus 1 gallon of fuel)
He also mentioned the success stories: The Marine Corps last fall deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand province with flexible solar panels developed at the Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., which allowed the Marines to run two patrol bases completely on solar power and cut diesel fuel consumption at a third base by more than 90 percent. At Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base, Calif., Marines are demonstrating new microgrid technology, a system of self-generated electricity and intelligent controls that can be operated independently of the commercial power grid that military bases rely on. (BUT he didn’t mentioned the failure stories, such as waste-to power, foam spray)
Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman told that: “Coupled with the scale of the Defense Department’s operations and its potential to act as a test bed for innovative technologies, this partnership is a crucial vehicle to strengthen our national security and to build a clean energy economy for America.”
Note that the DOD and the DOE are working on projects in three areas: advancing mobility and strike capabilities, increasing energy reliability and efficiency on DoD fixed and forward operating bases, and advancing institutional cooperation between the departments, including stationing Energy advisers at the combatant commands.
The U.S. Defense Department must change the way it uses energy on the battlefield as conflicts become longer and more expeditionary. But how can you do that knowing the fact that as conflicts become longer in duration and more expeditionary in nature, the amount of fuel it takes to keep forces in the field increases tremendously. It is easy to say that the US military must change how it manages energy on the battlefield and reduce demand at all levels.
I agree with Lynn that DoD needs to address energy as a military planning challenge, and that current US military energy technology is not optimized for the battlefield of today and tomorrow.
A gentlemen from the audience made a very good remark on savings versus security puzzle the DOD faces. Funding for many DOD projects come from public source. Much of that money goes to the projects that don’t exist now. What is the point of spending taxpayer money for the projects that don’t get implemented. He mentioned that Net zero bases are done with no public funding. They totally rely on private sector. Military is prohibited from building installations for power. DOD is focused on saving not on security. Reliability comes with long term contracts which are prohibited.
The forum disappointingly did not tackle operational energy. Most of the things discussed were on installation energy and how to make use of renewable and alternative energy sources. But focus moved from the US military to the US as a nation.
However, two important facts were pronounced but were not elaborated. That USA is a mass unattended driver country. And that there are more vehicles in the US than the people with driving licenses.
Challenges remain unanswered: DOD consumes more energy than two-thirds of all the nations on the earth. DOD needs to employ (operational) energy as a military challenge.