USA — New Office Aims to Reduce Military’s Fuel Usage

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2010 — When Sharon E. Burke was sworn in ear­li­er this month as the Pentagon’s first direc­tor of oper­a­tional ener­gy plans and pro­grams, her mis­sion was clear: reduce the amount of ener­gy need­ed in war zones, and decrease the risk to troops that trans­port and guard the military’s fuel. 

Burke isn’t ask­ing troops to do with­out the fuel, gen­er­a­tors, and bat­ter­ies need­ed for wartime oper­a­tions or even for crea­ture com­forts, she said yes­ter­day in an inter­view with Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. Instead, she hopes to find ener­gy alter­na­tives and effi­cien­cies to meet the military’s needs. 

The job of this office is to make sure the troops get the ener­gy they need to do their jobs,” she said. “Our top pri­or­i­ty is to give our deployed forces more options, more mis­sion effectiveness.” 

Main­tain­ing cur­rent ener­gy lev­els in envi­ron­ments like Iraq and Afghanistan is unsus­tain­able, Burke and oth­er Pen­ta­gon lead­ers say. Besides the obvi­ous envi­ron­men­tal impact, the cur­rent lev­els come with tremen­dous finan­cial and secu­ri­ty costs, they say. 

The Defense Depart­ment uses some 300,000 bar­rels of oil each day, 70 per­cent of which goes to over­seas oper­a­tions, and 30 per­cent to state­side bases, Burke said. The department’s ener­gy con­sump­tion accounts for 80 per­cent of the fed­er­al government’s usage, offi­cials have said. 

The Defense Logis­tics Agency deliv­ers more than 170,000 bar­rels of oil each day to the war the­aters, at a cost of $9.6 bil­lion last year, Burke said. The depart­ment, over­all, spent $13.4 bil­lion on ener­gy last year, she said. 

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates have said that America’s demand for oil is a nation­al secu­ri­ty issue by mak­ing the Unit­ed States depen­dent on imports from for­eign nations that are not allies. Gates iden­ti­fied ener­gy as one of the department’s top 25 trans­for­ma­tion­al pri­or­i­ties, and this year’s Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review address­es ener­gy for the first time as a strate­gic issue. Con­gress approved the cre­ation of Burke’s posi­tion last year as part of the Defense bud­get in what she said is anoth­er exam­ple of the administration’s efforts on envi­ron­men­tal issues. 

The fact that ener­gy is a wartime oper­a­tional and strate­gic issue isn’t new, Burke said, but it has become more so as more and more fuel is need­ed and trans­ports must trav­el through open areas at high risk of insur­gent attacks. 

A tremen­dous amount of mil­i­tary man­pow­er is used to pro­tect such con­voys, Burke said. As one mil­i­tary police offi­cer told her in Iraq, she said, “ ‘You only have to watch a fuel truck blow up once to see the irony of the job you’re doing here.’ ” 

Burke said get­ting enough ener­gy in the­ater has become a chal­lenge. “We’ve assumed we’ll always be able to get what we need,” she said. “But we can’t assume that any­more. We need to plan for it.” 

Of the finan­cial cost, Burke said, “We’re using a tremen­dous amount of mon­ey that we could be spend­ing on our troops and their equip­ment.” She added that the price of fuel in a war zone – when trans­porta­tion and secu­ri­ty are added in – is sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than what reg­u­lar con­sumers pay at the gas pump. When the aver­age Amer­i­can is pay­ing $3 per gal­lon of gas, she said, the price can soar to more than $20 per gal­lon in places like Hel­mand province, Afghanistan, when sup­port costs are added in. 

Burke said she will ini­ti­ate a “con­sis­tent dia­logue” with the ser­vices about their ener­gy needs. 

Some ser­vices already are work­ing on alter­na­tive ener­gy sources and fuel effi­cien­cies. Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus said ear­li­er this year that Marines in Afghanistan are using solar-pow­ered water purifi­ca­tion sys­tems to reduce the use of fos­sil fuels and the need to haul water. The Marines also are using spray-on insu­la­tion to keep tents warm in win­ter and cool in summer. 

Burke said she’ll also dis­cuss with the ser­vices oth­er alter­na­tives to light­en trans­port loads or buy goods local­ly to reduce the num­ber of transports. 

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

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →