Petraeus Calls for ‘Energy-informed’ Decisions in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 — Not­ing an ener­gy-effi­cient force is a more agile and resilient force, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus called on his com­man­ders and troops to reduce their ener­gy con­sump­tion in Afghanistan.

“By reduc­ing demand for fuel, we will improve oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty, reduce risk to our forces and, ulti­mate­ly, strength­en our secu­ri­ty,” Petraeus, the com­man­der of U.S. and coali­tion forces in Afghanistan, wrote in a June 7 mem­o­ran­dum addressed to the ser­vice mem­bers and civil­ians of U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

Coali­tion forces are able to “project pow­er” across the globe, and for long peri­ods of time, he said, but inher­ent to this capa­bil­i­ty is the need for fuel. “This ‘oper­a­tional ener­gy’ is the lifeblood of our warfight­ing capa­bil­i­ties,” he wrote, “and a key enabler of coali­tion oper­a­tions in Afghanistan.”

How­ev­er, high fuel use can cre­ate risks to troops and to the mis­sion. Near­ly 80 per­cent of ground-sup­ply move­ments are fuel-based, the gen­er­al not­ed, and many lives have been lost deliv­er­ing fuel to bases across the coun­try. Addi­tion­al­ly, mov­ing and pro­tect­ing this ener­gy diverts troops from com­bat.

“A force that makes bet­ter use of fuel will have increased agili­ty, improved resilience against dis­rup­tion, and more capac­i­ty for engag­ing Afghan part­ners, par­tic­u­lar­ly at the tac­ti­cal edge,” he wrote.

“We can and will do bet­ter,” he added.

To start, Petraeus said he’s stand­ing up an office to change the way coali­tion forces use oper­a­tional ener­gy, and a team will assist com­man­ders with mea­sur­ing and man­ag­ing unit fuel con­sump­tion.

The gen­er­al also direct­ed his com­man­ders to make “ener­gy-informed, risk-based deci­sions” in areas such as avi­a­tion and vehi­cle oper­a­tions, base camp design, pow­er and water gen­er­a­tion, and dis­tri­b­u­tion. “This includes deci­sions on deliv­er­ies, improve­ments to exist­ing struc­tures and new con­struc­tion,” he wrote.

Petraeus also called for a swift tran­si­tion of new fuel sav­ings meth­ods to the field as well as a pur­suit of proven alter­na­tive ener­gy options that reduce the use and trans­port of fuel.

Final­ly, com­man­ders should keep ener­gy con­sump­tion in mind when deal­ing with con­tract require­ments and over­sight, he wrote.

On an indi­vid­ual lev­el, Petraeus said com­man­ders should ensure their per­son­nel are mind­ful of day-to-day fuel use — turn­ing off unused equip­ment, repair­ing faulty equip­ment, and avoid­ing light­ing, heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing use in unused facil­i­ties.

“Com­man­ders and their per­son­nel should under­stand that rou­tine ener­gy con­sump­tion can either enable or lim­it com­bat capa­bil­i­ties,” he wrote.

Cut­ting back on fuel makes sense on every lev­el, Petraeus not­ed. “As we have demon­strat­ed in Afghanistan, the ini­tia­tive, com­mit­ment and capa­bil­i­ty of coali­tion forces give us unpar­al­leled advan­tages,” he wrote. “Chang­ing the way we use oper­a­tional ener­gy will light­en the logis­tics bur­den, min­i­mize tac­ti­cal dis­trac­tions to the mis­sion, and deny easy tar­gets to the adver­sary.”

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

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