US Army, US Air Force Conduct First Energy Forum

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.

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