Energy to Tactical Edge: Hybrid power saving lives

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.

Rapid Equip­ping Force train­ers edu­cate Sol­diers from the 173rd Air­borne Brigade Com­bat Team on oper­at­ing and main­tain­ing SolarStik, March 6, 2012, dur­ing an Ener­gy to the Edge train­ing exer­cise at the Joint Multi­na­tion­al Readi­ness Cen­ter in Hohen­fels, Ger­many. SolarStik will pro­vide troops in remote out­posts with a reli­able ener­gy source, decreas­ing their depen­dence on dan­ger­ous refu­el­ing efforts and enabling them to focus time and ener­gy on their pri­ma­ry mis­sion.
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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.

U.S. Army

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