WASHINGTON, July 21, 2011 — The Army and Air Force convened their first joint energy forum here this week to demonstrate that they are making responsible and efficient energy development a priority.
Kevin Geiss, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, and Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for energy and sustainability, fielded questions about energy development and investments yesterday in a “DODLive” bloggers roundtable.
The Army has increased the priority of energy projects, Kidd said, and is talking about energy as it never has before. For its part, Geiss said, the Air Force is continuing a history of investment in efficient energy development.
“At its core, in the DNA of the Air Force is to respect technology and the evolutions and revolutions in technology, and how that can enable us to do our job better and more effectively in national security,” he said. “We are now spending about $200 million a year in technology that is related to energy.”
But Kidd and Geiss emphasized that to ensure the success, the Army and Air Force must work in concert with the Defense Department’s overall priorities.
“Taking care of our soldiers, sailors, airmen [and] their families, and having a healthy Department of Defense … is an overall priority,” Geiss said, stressing the need to emphasize the broader benefits to ensure the success of energy projects.
“It’s important that we understand the second- and third-order effects of the initiatives we are proposing from the energy perspective [that] may also have additional benefits of decreasing our maintenance … costs,” he said. “So if we can show a broader benefit on an initiative that we may be championing because it’s energy-related, I think that helps things to survive a little bit better in this process, because you are also bringing value to other areas of the department … than the folks that are simply looking at how much fuel we are purchasing.”
The conversation shifted to the roles other service branches, private industry, civilians and communities can play in encouraging alternative energy growth. When any one branch of the military develops new technologies around energy, Geiss said, all branches benefit.
“Our goals are the same,” he said. “We want to reduce the burden on our infantrymen, our warfighters and our convoys.”
Partnerships with industry, including power providers, can play an important role in bringing energy solutions to the table, Kidd said.
Communities are crucial, the military energy experts said.
“Our installations do not exist in isolation from the local community,” Kidd said. “We are partners with that local community. And as we look for solutions for waste and energy and water, we have to look for solutions that work with the local community.”
The Army has launched an effort to minimize wastewater and energy consumption, he added. “And we can’t do that without the help of local communities,” he said.
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Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)