Army to Change the Way It Thinks About Battlefield Energy

By Stew Magnuson
NEW ORLEANS — The Army is in the beginning stages of a new operational energy strategy that will emphasize new mindsets rather than new technologies.
The goal of the Army on a battlefield is not to conserve energy, it is to prevail, said Col. Paul Roege, chief of the service's operational energy office. If it were, troops would just remain at their bases, and never consume any fuels.
Getting ground forces to save fuel because it saves money, lessens the burden on the logistics tail or helps the environment is a nonstarter because these do not directly help to defeat an enemy or accomplish a mission, Roege said at the National Defense Industrial Association's Environment, Energy and Sustainability symposium.
"These are things that we work on, but they are not the end goal, " he said.
The new "energy informed operations" strategy, however, will make the case to those who consume energy in forward-deployed scenarios that conserving fuel ultimately does  help them prevail on the battlefield, he said.
Asking how the energy on hand can be used for the greatest possible benefit is preferable to "trying to make the argument that this is going to save us money,"
"In the Army sometimes, technologies make less difference than behaviors," Roege said. This will mean changing training, increasing awareness and doing cultural studies so a sergeant can go to a private on a forward operating base and ask him to think about how he is using energy.
This new way of thinking will need to extend to the acquisition community as well, he said. How far can a vehicle drive or a helicopter fly without having to refuel? How many days can a soldier go on a foot patrol with a heavy load without needing more batteries? Long range and endurance will enhance the capacity to prevail, he said.
During the past few years, the military has been using the "fully burdened cost of fuel" statistic to drive the argument for lower fuel consumption. This metric seeks to explain how much it really costs to transport a gallon of fuel to the battlefield. "This argument really isn't going to carry the day ... You need to make the same argument when you want a better gun. You don't say 'this bullet is going to be cheaper in the lifecycle, it is going to defeat the threat,'" he said.
Traditionally, when designing new vehicles, developers have not taken into account how hard it is to deliver fuel, he said. There is increasing realization in the Army that putting fuel consumption metrics into lifecycle costs is the wrong way to look at the problem, he said. The amount of time an aerial or ground vehicle spends in combat is actually short, he said. Fuel consumption should be looked at in terms of how it helps the endurance, range and speed, he said.
An initial capabilities document on the energy informed operations strategy was signed by the Joint Staff in April, and the Army is looking to release it to the public for comment as soon as possible, he said. It will then be passed on to Army Training and Doctrine Command where a campaign plan will be developed, he said.

Topics: Energy, Alternative Energy

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