FORT LEE, Va. -- "Energy and persistence conquer all
things," said Benjamin Franklin, one of America's
foremost Founding Fathers. Although not referring to
modern-day Operational Energy, the meaning behind the words
still bears truth.
"Operational Energy is the catalyst that connects
Soldiers, information and weapons systems to create combat
effects; assure global reach and persistence; enable
high-end capabilities; and power mission critical
reach-back and deployment from fixed bases," said Col.
Bruce McPeak, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command's
Materiel Systems and Operational Energy Office
The energy decisions faced by the Army are not much
different than those facing everyday consumers, and the
solutions are similar, said Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge,
CASCOM commanding general.
"The risks, however, if we fail to react to our ever
increasing reliance on limited energy resources are
significantly greater in the Army," said Hodge.
"Our dependence to operate successfully creates
vulnerability, and our enemies know it. Our growing demand
for energy is becoming increasingly dangerous to meet and
too expensive to fund."
To tackle this vulnerability and foster a solution, the
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command tasked CASCOM in
July 2011 to serve as the agency responsible for leading
and coordinating a multi-functional development team.
CASCOM was responsible for writing the Army Operational
Energy Campaign Plan. The AOECP is expected, once approved,
to become an annex to the Army Campaign Plan, according to
the CASCOM OEO.
Energy efficiency is not a new concept to CASCOM. The
command has been involved in the effort since 2006, and led
a team that developed the original Energy Efficiency Key
Performance Parameter methodology that is still being used
today, said Michael Kriz, CASCOM OEO.
"Today, a significant portion of our operational
assets are diverted for command, control and management of
energy; and to secure convoys and storage facilities,"
said McPeak. "The bottom line is that we are working
to reduce our energy footprint to free these assets for
other missions, extend operating distance, increase loiter
time and operational endurance, and reduce risk
personal and fiscal."
The current equation for fuel usage in operations
translates to more than 60 gallons of fuel consumption per
Soldier per day, and the Army only represents 18 percent of
Department of Defense global fuel use. In operations in
Afghanistan, the Army represents 80 percent in volume, said
Col. Phillip VonHoltz, U.S. Army Petroleum Center
commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command.
Some of the plan's initiatives include combining
traditional fuels with locally procured fuels; using
alternative energy; eliminating and reusing waste products
and water; better insulation, Soldier-powered body
heat/movement energy production, and intelligent power
distribution and management, according to CASCOM OEO.
"The paradigm we are dealing with is that energy is
becoming increasingly expensive and risky to deliver, while
the world is getting more dangerous," said McPeak.
"Consequently, we are pursuing integrated operational
energy solutions to enhance our capabilities as opposed to
continuing to produce systems with profligate energy
In addition to better utilizing current energy resources,
the plan includes capitalizing on emerging technology such
as wireless charging, smart textiles, integrated weapons
power and kinetic energy.
It's important to note that new initiatives are not
based on efficiencies at the expense of capabilities. For
instance, a chassis that is lighter generally consumes less
fuel. But a lighter chassis is also often less protected,
"On the other hand, technology has provided us new
devices that consume far less energy per operating hour
than older devices. The battery life of new, lighter and
more capable laptop computers is a prime example,"
according to CASCOM OEO.
In some cases, new more efficient technologies are fairly
inexpensive, in others this is not the case.
"One of our tasks was to help evaluate potential
solutions using documented gaps to make cost informed
recommendations to decision makers," said Kriz.
"Part of that process is learning better ways to
leverage the agile processes. Doing this, allows us to get
solutions to the field quicker and evaluate the results,
while we work to formalize processes to determine if the
items have the qualities to make it an enduring
As part of the overarching energy plan, the Army is
sponsoring nearly 100 initiatives that cost more than $580
million, said Dr. Michael E. Canes, former vice president
and chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute,
while participating in an Operational Energy panel at the
Army Sustainment Symposium and Exposition held in Richmond,
Va., in May. The conference was sponsored by the
Association of the U.S. Army.
VonHoltz, who was also on the panel, said that
"logisticians have a Herculean task."
McPeak, Kriz and Lt. Col. Boris Hall, also of the CASCOM
OEO, said they took great pride in the monumental task of
developing the AOECP.
This plan means many things to many people, said Kriz. But
the one thing it doesn't mean is the traditional
definition of "doing more with less."
"The plan's focus is to ensure we are making
effective use of the energy we consume. If we do that, we
will naturally consume less while increasing capability.
This benefits all of us by freeing assets normally
dedicated to transporting and protecting energy supplies to
do other tasks. It means less maintenance has to be
performed -- fewer trucks driving, fewer generators
operating," according to the CASCOM OEO. "It also
means that the dollars currently being spent on energy
could be reallocated to other beneficial programs, like
improving our quality of life. In the end, we can make this
effort a win for our Army, the nation and for each one of
In addition to finding practical techniques, the CASCOM OEO
team also had to research the "human element" and
determine how to incorporate energy awareness and training
Technological innovations plus policies, guidance and
documentation alone are not enough to ensuring the Army
reaches its goals for Operational Energy, said Dr. Donnie
Horner, U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency, during the
Sustainment Commanders Conference at Fort Lee. CASCOM
hosted the two-day event in May.
"As we move forward we will develop new attitudinal
and behavioral norms regarding energy," said McPeak.
"Our goal is to provide Soldiers with impetus to
factor energy in their daily operations. As personal
responsibility in energy management permeates throughout
the Army, shared values will unlock mass innovation in
finding ways to use energy in more efficient
Persistent change across an organization occurs when about
75-85 percent of the personnel have modified their
behaviors and "proclaim their belief that energy
stewardship is the new way of doing business," said
The CASCOM OEO recognized this challenge and addressed it
in the plan by applying a multi-faceted approach.
"The approach leverages the capabilities of existing
training platforms and communication mediums while
continuously highlighting why energy is important,"
said McPeak. "Developing training regimens that are
both value-based and actionable is difficult, but necessary
to address the continuous changes observed in energy
prices, technology and markets. We will be closer to our
goal of energy awareness and cultural change when leaders,
Soldiers and teammates hold the belief that energy security
and energy efficiency are vital to national
Awareness goes a long way, but to maintain momentum in this
cultural shift, the Army needs to improve education,
training and communication, said McPeak.
"Education helps us understand why energy is important
to the overall mission of the Army. We are working to
develop appropriate content and find advantageous insertion
points for energy in accession schools, the military
academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps, and professional
military education curriculums that incorporate energy
lessons into training and orientation of Soldiers,"
according to the CASCOM OEO.
McPeak said he understands that training also equals
additional fiscal endeavors, and that's why to make
this effort affordable, the plan is to leverage existing
education and training platforms.
Instilling energy awareness across the Army and empowering
Soldiers with a sense of stewardship is a cornerstone goal,
"We all have an opportunity, here and now, to be
agents of change with a strategic implication. We will meet
this challenge head on, capitalizing on leading-edge
research, technologies, and business practices," said
Hodge. Achieving success will take persistence and
accountability at all levels. Remember, every Soldier in
the U.S. Army is an energy manager and has the capability
to help reduce demand.