Dempsey: New Energy Technologies Already Helping DOD

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2011 — Sav­ing ener­gy saves lives, and new tech­nolo­gies cham­pi­oned by Defense Depart­ment offi­cials already are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence at the Pen­ta­gon and on the bat­tle­field, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey spoke at an ener­gy secu­ri­ty event held at the Pen­ta­gon to rec­og­nize Octo­ber as Nation­al Ener­gy Aware­ness Month.

“Fun­da­men­tal­ly, we know that sav­ing ener­gy saves lives,” Dempsey said. “In Afghanistan few­er sup­ply con­voys will direct­ly relate to few­er casu­al­ties, and it’s not just about defen­sive oper­a­tions.”

Pen­ta­gon offi­cials are putting ener­gy effi­cien­cy and new tech­nolo­gies to work for the entire Defense Depart­ment. These improve­ments include solar pan­els, micro­grid sys­tems and high-capac­i­ty bat­ter­ies, the chair­man said.

“We’ve designed more fuel-effi­cient ground com­bat vehi­cles, installed hybrid sys­tems on some naval ships and invest­ed in fuel cells to pro­vide back­up pow­er to mil­i­tary instal­la­tions. And I know the Army’s run­ning a pilot on three instal­la­tions right now to get at a net-zero base­line for ener­gy con­sump­tion,” Dempsey said.

“I’ll do every­thing I can as chair­man,” he added, “to sup­port these inno­va­tions and to get the right emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies into our troops’ hands as soon as pos­si­ble.”

This crit­i­cal job is best done not by indi­vid­ual ser­vices, but in a joint effort, Dempsey added, “and I’m count­ing on the peo­ple in this room to get it done.”

The chair­man said he is com­mit­ted to goals set forth in the department’s first Oper­a­tional Ener­gy Strat­e­gy, released June 14 to pro­mote a more strate­gic use of ener­gy to reduce warfight­er risks, save mon­ey for tax­pay­ers and help shift more resources to oth­er defense pri­or­i­ties.

The goals “include reduc­ing ener­gy demand at all lev­els of our forces while increas­ing the resilience and oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness of our equip­ment and our sol­diers,” Dempsey said.

Improv­ing the department’s ener­gy secu­ri­ty direct­ly trans­lates to improv­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty, he added.

“It will be essen­tial to keep­ing our mil­i­tary the most effec­tive — the finest — fight­ing force in the world. And it is inher­ent to our respon­si­bil­i­ties as good stew­ards of our nation’s resources,” the chair­man said.

“With­out improv­ing our ener­gy secu­ri­ty, we are not mere­ly stand­ing still as a mil­i­tary or as a nation, we are falling behind,” Dempsey added.

The department’s ener­gy cul­ture has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly since he was a young Army armor offi­cer, the chair­man said.

“Today, Amer­i­cans are more ener­gy-con­scious in our homes and at work, and so too are we in our mil­i­tary,” Dempsey said. “But we can and must do even bet­ter � par­tic­u­lar­ly in push­ing progress out to the field, to the flight­line and into the fleet.”

Today’s warfight­ers require more ener­gy than at any time in the past, he said, and that require­ment is not like­ly to decline.

Dur­ing World War II, sup­port­ing one sol­dier on the bat­tle­field took a gal­lon of fuel per day. Today, Dempsey said, “we use over 22 gal­lons per day per sol­dier, and we are also more expe­di­tionary than ever.”

Ener­gy spans every activ­i­ty of the Defense Depart­ment, he said.

“In the air, jet fuel equates to on-sta­tion and loi­ter time. At sea, marine fuel con­sump­tion rates impact oper­at­ing and tran­sit speeds,” the chair­man said. On the ground, he added, ener­gy require­ments often dri­ve how long sol­diers can stay out on patrol and how many resup­ply con­voys are put at risk to sup­port them.

For exam­ple, he said, for a 72-hour mis­sion, today’s 30-man infantry pla­toon car­ries 400 pounds of bat­ter­ies to pow­er night vision devices, GPS devices, com­mu­ni­ca­tion gear and flash­lights.

“Now that pla­toon is also more capa­ble than ever, … but we need to light­en the ener­gy load of each warfight­er and the phys­i­cal weight and resup­ply that it entails,” Dempsey said.

Ener­gy advances are unique in the oppor­tu­ni­ties they afford, he not­ed.

“Tra­di­tion­al­ly, we must spend mon­ey to increase capa­bil­i­ty. Here, we may have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase capa­bil­i­ty and save mon­ey — at least that is what we ought to aspire to,” Dempsey said.

Con­tin­u­ing ener­gy secu­ri­ty efforts is vital for the military’s future, the chair­man said.

“What­ev­er and when­ev­er our forces go into harm’s way, they must have the best tools avail­able, Dempsey said. “Improv­ing our ener­gy secu­ri­ty can help us do that, and we don’t have the time to waste.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)