Sunday, August 30, 2009

DOD Energy Blog Interview with Amory Lovins - 5 Part Series (part 4)

Moving now from a response on the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel (FBCF) energy metric being worked at the Pentagon to a question that's a lot less direct.

Question 4) In a recent article in Foreign Affairs called "The Pentagon's Wasting Assets" (to which a response was posted on this blog, here) there seem to be recommendations for valuing Endurance more than we do today. Is this at all in alignment with your thinking?
Lovins: Very much so. Krepinevich's article encapsulates some, though not all, of the important trends that make Endurance and Resilience vital to future military success. For example, as our 2008 Defense Science Board Task Force report More Fight—Less Fuel maintained:
"Endurance exploits improved energy efficiency ... to extend range and dwell—recognizing the need for affordable dominance, requiring little or no fuel logistics, in persistent, dispersed, and remote operations, while enhancing overmatch in more traditional operations."
A lean fuel logistics tail also increases mobility, maneuver, tactical and operational flexibility, versatility, and reliability. All these attributes are required to combat asymmetrical, adaptive, demassed, elusive, and faraway adversaries. Endurance is even more valuable in stability operations, which often need even more persistence, dispersion, and affordability than the combat operations with which they now enjoy comparable priority under DoDD Memo 3000.05, sec 4.1. 
Seems to me all of the characteristics Lovins attributes to his hypothetical adversaries are in play in the AfPak region, and that UAVs like the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, which can loiter for 14 hours fully armed and for 30 hours with a lighter payload, are effective for all the reasons described above. And others see this as well. As Thomas Barnett recently wrote, UAVs are "re-symmetricizing the battlefield in a much-needed manner."

The last question in this series of questions and answers with Amory Lovins will address DOD's dependency on the brittle national grid.

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