New Army energy strategy: security, sustainability among goals

The Army has released its new Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy, designed to enhance the force's readiness, capabilities, and performance. The strateg...

The Army has released its new Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy, designed to enhance the force’s readiness, capabilities, and performance. Army Undersecretary Brad Carson and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn write in the strategy document that their force is at “a turning point. The Army is evolving from a historic framework that viewed resource considerations as constraints on operational effectiveness to a perspective that considers the critical role of energy, water, and land resources as mission enablers.”

The strategy includes five goals. Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, was my guest to review each of the five goals, and explain how the Army will meet them.

Some highlights of my conversation with Hammack:

On the overall strategy: “I found that when people understand the ‘why,’ then they understand more the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’ Explaining why it is important to them, why it is important to their missions, and why it is important to the future of the U.S. Army and this nation, helps people really get behind implementing the ‘what.’ So we have five ‘whys’ — why energy security and sustainability is important.”

Goal 1: Informed decisions. “I was down at Fort Lee watching a very young group of soldiers, in the 18 to 20 year old range, and they were having a challenge. You had a generator with so much generating capacity, and [they had] 15 things that you might want to plug in. It was interesting to see them, on a white board, adding up how much energy a coffee maker and a printer and the copy machine and six laptops consumed, so that they could see whether they’d have enough power to do their mission.”

Goal 2: Optimizing use. “[This means] increasing resource efficiency at the same time you’re decreasing resource demand. If you look at your energy and water systems, your water systems use energy. You want water when you turn on the tap. You want energy when you flip the switch. But you can … think about how you use that energy, how you use that water, to ensure that you have enough for those critical missions. Use what you need, so it’s there when you need it.”

Goal 3: Assuring access. “About five years ago, one of our bases was shut down for five days because a tornado came through. It cut the single power line going into the base. Assured access means that you might want to have two power lines coming into the base. We had another base whose water was shut down, because … a backhoe off base nicked a water pipeline. Assured access would have been [to have] wells on site that we can use as a backup, and we have other choices. Assured access means we can do the mission this nation asks of us when we’re facing emergencies or humanitarian issues.”

Goal 4: Building resiliency. “We are facing so many disruptions to our availability of energy and water. Right now we’re facing a disruption in our budgets. We want to ensure that we are resilient and we can weather the various disruptions. October is Energy Action Month. Action today is resiliency tomorrow. [We’re] really focused on enabling the Army for the long term, not just the short term.”

Goal 5: Driving innovation. “[Innovation] is going to come from inside and outside sources. We are collaborating with the private sector. We are collaborating with small business. We’re collaborating with large businesses and industry to try to bring together the best and brightest minds to figure out what kind of innovative solutions can help us all in the future. Some of the things we’re doing do have a lot of application in the private sector, so it’s not only beneficial for the military.”

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