HOHENFELS, GERMANY — The modern battlefield demands a more sustainable Soldier. Today, troops increasingly depend upon reliable energy availability, fuel efficiency and reduced load burdens to survive an unrelenting environment and adaptable adversary.
As higher numbers of Soldiers face our enemies in remote locations with limited resources, which are areas known as “the tactical edge,” the importance of providing them with the education, capabilities and tools they need becomes more urgent.
The U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force initiated its Energy to the Tactical Edge, known as E2E, effort to mitigate the inherent risks associated with living on small combat outposts and forward operating bases by reducing troops’ reliance on fuel resupply operations and decreasing the Soldier load burden.
The E2E initiative is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, Army G‑4, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, U. S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and U.S. Army Europe.
These organizations have teamed together to create a first-of-its-kind comprehensive approach to understanding soldiers’ energy and load requirements, identifying solutions and rapidly equipping units in or preparing for severe conditions.
On March 6th at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, received training on multiple hybrid energy capabilities that will increase generator efficiency, improve renewable energy harvesting, and reduce the soldier load by improving battery recharging capabilities. The intensive training curriculum served to increase soldiers’ capabilities and survivability once deployed through a suite of sustainable options.
They learned maintenance, system capabilities and detailed operating instructions to prepare them for fluid integration into daily use while in Afghanistan.
Today, fuel consists of over 50 percent of the load carried by supply convoys in Afghanistan. These convoys are especially attractive targets to adversaries, and are regularly attacked. Statistics show that the U.S. loses one Soldier for every twenty convoys through attacks consisting of improvised explosive devices and/or direct fire ambushes. There will be over 3,000 resupply convoys in 2012.
In addition, the average dismounted Soldier is forced to carry approximately 130 lbs of weight, often consisting of spare batteries, recharging capabilities, and heavy electronic components. By providing innovative and lightweight batteries and universal charging options, the REF will help to unburden the Soldier and enable him or her to move more fluidly along the rough terrain in theater.
While the E2E initiative is in its infancy, early feedback has demonstrated that innovative energy capabilities, combined with proper education and training will drive future combat efforts and will lead to a new generation of hybrid, sustainable Soldiers.