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 ï¿½ 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)