DoD initiative will save fuel, improve security

Sharon Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs

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The Department of Defense is putting $18 million towards finding ways to reduce energy consumption on military outposts. By decreasing its need for fuel, DoD said this will also increase the level of security on bases.

“The goal here is to specifically improve combat outposts so that they require less fuel,” Sharon Burke, the assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin. “That takes risks out of the battlefield and people off the road and gives our folks in all of those services more independence from the supply line,” she said.

All military services are participating in the program, including people in the combatant commands, DoD laboratories and the acquisition community.

The initiative looks to link DoD teams with small business entrepreneurs interested in coming up with strategies to reduce the military’s fuel usage in the field. DoD will host an information session in March for businesses interested in participating.

“On the battlefield, almost all the energy that we use comes from diesel fuel,” Burke said. “It goes into generators to create electricity.”

Burke said DoD is looking at how the equipment uses the fuel for things like heating and cooling, and what changes can be made.

“We’ve got studies from the Marine Corps and the Army that point to those two demands as a significant demander of fuel in the battlefield,” Burke said. “We’ve targeted these two areas in particular.”

The Marine Corps study revealed that of the service’s total fuel use in Afghanistan, including air assets and vehicles that use a great deal of fuel, 13 percent of its fuel went to heating and air conditioning.

“A generator that’s providing energy for that may be providing electricity for a lot of things,” Burke said. “So, you can’t necessarily say fixing that will take ‘x’ gallons, but we will be measuring the effectiveness here of all the technologies. … The goal is to give all of the armed services in the fight a better capability, but also to keep people off the road to move that fuel, because we are seeing a lot of attacks on our supply lines.”