Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HOMER for the Holidays: Tools for Energy Security

In the process of operational and logistics planning, military planners have a plethora of tools available to determine troop strength, enemy intentions, supply requirements, etc. When the decision is made at a forward operating base to transition from unit equipment supported operations to contractor supported, the tools available are very limited. There is the CENTCOM Sandbook and the LOGCAP contract. Although dated, this presentation gives a pretty good feel for the complexity of what must be done.

After several months in one location, position improvements increase security and quality of life. LOGCAP supplements or replaces unit equipment and inefficient spot generation gives way to central power plants. One of the challenges for commanders who choose renewable over diesel power generation is determining what systems will best support their operations. The military has had decision support systems for every potential operation except for renewable deployment, until now.

Captain Brandon Newell, late of the Marine Energy Assessment Team and the Naval Post Graduate School and now assigned to the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office has proposed a solution to that problem. CAPT Newell also spent time at the National Renewable Energy Lab and has figured out how to adapt their HOMER model for use in FOBs. HOMER is an energy modeling tool for designing and analyzing hybrid power systems. The Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables (Dooah!) was developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab and then commercialized by HOMER Energy LLC.

The thesis extract can be found here and the full thesis is here. What CAPT Newell found was that the model could be calibrated to specific power system in order to estimate energy production. With adaptation the model served to compare energy systems effectively. This means that rather than pulling the standard LOGCAP contract off the shelf for a FOB transition to a more enduring status, facilities engineers now have a tool that allows them see what non fossil fuel options are open to them. I hope they take their lead from CAPT Newell’s work and exploit this tool to reduce fuel use and transportation.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tom Friedman on Navy Energy

Here is a great piece by Tom Friedman on Navy efforts in clean, secure energy. He points out the challenges of developing and deploying these systems because of Congressional lobbying efforts by fossil fuel companies, a challenge not felt by Marines using renewable energy to secure their own lines of communication. In Andy’s most recent post, most of the efforts describe in Friedman’s OpEd are described in detail. Unfortunately, SecNavy Ray Mabus' speech writers are not reading this blog. We are still seeing the $400/gal number tossed around. Thanks to Gueta Mezzetti and Steve Anderson for highlighting this to us.

Next up: What to expect in the coming New Year in DoD Energy. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 DOD Energy Year in Review

In the 2009 review we remarked that it was the first year that had enough going on to merit a DOD Energy "Top Ten." In 2010, we're nearly as far away from powering all DOD operations and facilities with unlimited, locally generated, clean energy, not to mention fielding platforms that run on that power, while also getting through all the other KPP hoops by being: lethal, survivable, transportable, networked and of course, inexpensive to actually procure in super-tight fiscal environments.

But there were some clear leadership and organizational signals that we're leaving the energy status quo past behind. Here's a few of them that stood out for Dan and me:

1. The Marines are always first in, and true to form, they started the year off right with a great expeditionary energy conference we covered HERE and especially HERE.

2. We took note of several new appointments as some energy leaders were on the move, including:
  • RADM Kunkel takes charge of DESC (now DLA Energy). Posted HERE
  • Richard Kidd joins Army Energy, HERE
  • Green turned kind of blue when Kevin Geiss joined Air Force Energy, noted HERE
  • Katherine Hammack takes on Army Operational and Installations Energy, HERE
3. Teaming trends - two of them for you:
  • Surf met turf when the Navy and the USDA agreed to join forces on shared efficiency and renewables objectives. Read all about it HERE
  •  DOD and DOE announced tighter teaming on energy HERE
4. The long-awaited nomination and appointment of a senior level central coordinator of operational energy finally came to pass when Sharon Burke got her hearing and then became our first DOEPP. We were pretty excited about this, covering her HEARING, APPOINTMENT, and doing a one-on-one interview with Ms. Burke when it was all over HERE.

5. Energy plans and reports were many and good, including the first QDR to cover energy issues in some detail:
6. On the technology and policy maturation front, towards the end of the year Dan noted a procurement that tells us a profound shift is underway. A big new remote radar installation is in the works, and renewable energy is going to have a significant role, for reasons we really like. As Dan observed:
The significance of this event is the almost routine incorporation of alternative energy into such a major program. There is no discussion of the fully burdened cost of fuel or energy as a key performance parameter.  It just makes good business sense.
Nice, eh? There's more on that HERE.

7. Lastly, lest you think it was all forward progress, we got a late-in-year punch-in-the-gut reminder of how fragile our fuel logistics are when a blockade on the AfPak border blockade exposed our huge reliance on overland fuel transport. Dan hit that HERE and HERE.

But overall, as you can probably tell, we thought it was a pretty great year. Please have wonderful holiday times with family and friends ... we're going take a few short breaks ourselves ... and let's get back to work big time in 2011.

Photo credit: Kris Bradley on

Friday, December 10, 2010

DESC From Above

Forty bundles of fuel fall from a United States Air Force Globemaster III aircraft over Afghanistan, Dec. 8, 2010. The aircraft is assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andy Kin

OK, I know there is no more DESC, but couldn't resist the line and I wanted to share this great picture. Above a C17 is dropping pallets of what appear to be four, fifty five gallon drums of fuel. Forty pallets mean about 8800 gallons or about 1/10th of what Camp Leatherneck uses in a day. If the NATO contract delivered prices was $6.30, then the unburdened cost was about $55k. Now, since a C17 gets great gas mileage, around 10 gal/mi and we figure a couple of hundred miles to the target, then the round trip gas cost is about $25k. Throw in maintenance, ground crew, air crew and all the other bells and whistles and let’s say another $20k we have a nearly fully burdened cost of about $11 bucks. Not sure I could stretch it to $400.

The fact is they have to get the mission done and they will continue to get it done. We owe them alternatives. As those of us who are back in the good ole’ US of A prepare for the holiday season, give thanks to those who stand at freedom’s gate for us. No matter the cost, they stand ready. Thank you, men and women of our Armed Forces.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mabus and Anderson Rock NPR

DoD Energy leadership, in and outside the institution, are of continued interest to the public at large. The impact of the Department’s efforts are recognized and appreciated. Two recent interviews on NPR’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow featured Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (pictured) and BG(R) Steve Anderson.

Mabus is well known for his aggressive stance on energy for the Navy and Anderson was the champion of energy demand reduction when he served as GEN Petraus’ senior loggie. Steve worked tirelessly to find ways to reduce fuel use by finding the best approaches to reduce electricity requirements and therefore get trucks off the road.

The interview is available here. Certainly worth a listen. Steve Anderson makes me look shy and retiring when it comes to his critique of current policy. Keep up the fire!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making It Routine: The Space Fence on Renewables

In 1958 the U.S. Navy began the design and construction of a system intended to monitor satellites tracking U.S. ship movement. In 2004 the program was transferred to the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force Space Surveillance Fence (or Space Fence) is part of the Space Surveillance Network (SSN). The system will employ continuous wave radar to tracks objects in low and medium Earth orbit (LEO and MEO). The Space Fence will be capable of detecting basketball‐sized objects as far away as 15,000 nautical miles (approximately 30,000 kilometers) and collects an average of 5 million individual observations every month.

The huge S-band radars will require enormous amounts of energy and the Air Force is looking at the long term cost of supplying that energy at remote locations. Typically, large diesel generators would be the standard solution to this problem. Cheap, non intermittent, assured, onsite power always makes military guys feel better. Yet the USAF is taking a different tact.

According to a news release out of Hanscom Air Force Base, the long term cost to support the Fence makes the use of alternative and renewable energy cost effective and the smart choice. The total anticipated cost of the system is expected to be $3.5 billion. The USAF Electronic Systems Center released an RFP for two preliminary design review contracts for up to $214 million. Program manager, Linda Haines wants to lower operational costs AND the carbon footprint.

"While we could incur some relatively small upfront additional investment costs, we see potential annual savings over our diesel fuel baseline of $25 million to $40 million a year, or total lifecycle cost savings of $500 million to $1 billion, with the right mix," said Haines.

The significance of this event is the almost routine incorporation of alternative energy into such a major program. There is no discussion of the fully burdened cost of fuel or energy as a key performance parameter. It just makes good business sense. It is about reducing recurring fuel costs. Each site will have its own characteristics and potential sources of energy. They will be excellent platforms for demonstrating hybrid mixes of energy production, storage and smart grid technologies.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory is a key player in this effort and is advising the USAF in the program. Among the major defense firms bidding on this project, Lockheed Martin has submitted their response. There is no mention of alternative energy in LM’s press release, but one must assume that the big defense firms will be getting the message. Incorporation of alternative energy, energy storage and smart grid technologies should and will become routine and just another “MilSpec”. We hope that day has come. Good on you, Air Force!

Space Fence, image courtesy of NASA

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Global Hawk Becoming First Synth Fuel Certified UAV

Thanks to Wired's Danger Zone for this short note.  Our blog has pondered the energy demand dynamics of DOD's increasing love affair with drones many times (see here and here for example).

But this certainly adds a new twist. It's not a renewable source of course, and it sure ain't clean. But if we had to use it, having the ability to run on coal-derived JP8 is good insurance ... and mission assurance.

And while we're at it: Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families from your friends the DOD Energy Blog.

Photo credit: Thomasz Dunn on

AFSAB Energy Study Report: Securing the Value Chain

This week, the Air Force released a previously FOUO report by their Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) entitled Alternative Sources of Energy for U.S. Air Force Bases. The report, originally published in classified form in August 2009, presents four recommendations and one theme. The theme remains the same: “the lack of a concerted systems approach to the problem”. The SAB sees the glass half full and I agree with them.

"Many installations are already engaged in alternative energy projects funded by private investors (such as local energy companies) and by the Air Force. These projects tend be initiated by enterprising individuals seizing timely opportunities; they are usually not designed as part of an integrated base energy system".

Throughout the DoD, enterprising individuals are championing the cause, making headway sometimes despite the system. These islands of excellence will continue to lead the charge. What is different today from August 2009 is the position of the senior leadership in all Services. All of the critical positions have been filled. The leadership is on record. Those commanders in the field who are making things happen now have friends in court.

In business it is important to secure the value change. In the military it is the chain of command.The challenge will be to put the racehorses in harness to pull the load. Not to beat an analog to death, but every sled team needs a lead dog and the Services must select lead installations where the commander is intrinsically motivated to achieving energy security, not because he or she was told to, but because they understand the implications of an insecure value chain.

The SAB study started with fairly general terms of reference, but focused in on three specific areas:

  • Analyze energy needs, usage, vulnerabilities, and conservation efforts: the Study found the ongoing conversation efforts to be effective in reducing current usage at Air Force installations. Much progress has been made already, but there are vulnerabilities.
  • Identify and assess alternative energy sources and recommend potential technologies and systems for Air Force installations near-, mid- and far-term: the Study found particular attention needs to be focused on power generation and storage solutions.
  • Assess the benefits and challenges associated with alternative energy sources: the Study found the Air Force faces significant challenges in operating its bases independently.

The four recommendations were in the areas of systems approach and teaming; cyber and physical security; concurrent pursuit of RE and storage solutions and, finally, nukes. Excerpts are below:

Recommendation 1

Implement a more concerted systems approach to the Air Force’s pursuit of alternative energy sources. The Panel recommends strengthening in-house competency in areas such as energy technologies, systems security, and energy compatibility with base missions.

Furthermore, the people within the Air Force civil engineering organizations who focus on energy and security of facilities should be augmented by partnerships with the relevant Department of Energy experts. The Study recommends elevating the role of the Base Energy Manager to strengthen operational understandings of energy security and enable implementation of an enterprise approach to alternative energy systems.

Recommendation 2

Strengthen plans for the security of energy sources and distribution elements at Air Force bases. Existing and future energy systems must be hardened against physical and cyber-attacks. Planning should include standardized assessments of vulnerabilities and risks and risk mitigation planning for mission-critical priorities. Microgrid and smart grid technologies should be considered, as well as ways to diversify energy sources and supply chains.

Recommendation 3

Pursue energy storage solutions and renewable energy sources concurrently. Alternative energy sources like wind and solar are intermittent; bases need energy storage systems to match energy supply with demand. Energy storage must, therefore, be considered in energy system planning.

In the near-term, the Study recommends storage be incorporated into energy systems for load-leveling and bridging intermittent supplies. Microgrid control systems should also be used to better integrate energy storage to match demand for power and to address the need for improved security and allow independent operation from the commercial grid during disruptions.

For the mid- to far-term, the Study recommends the Air Force partner with others in the development of technologies to create liquid fuels from renewable sources. The Air Force should also partner with others on the adoption of clean and efficient backup power systems useful for load-leveling and for the development of hydrocarbon fuel cells or microturbine systems for cleaner conversion of liquid fuels to backup power.

Recommendation 4

Evaluate emerging small nuclear power systems, identify bases that would derive the most benefit from such systems, and make nuclear energy a part of the Air Force’s energy planning for the future.

The clear implication of the report is the importance of bringing all resources to bear. DoD, DoE and private partners must work together toward a common goal that satisfies the requirements for security and economic viability. A market signal from DoD changes the playing field. Right now, the brightest minds in America are headed to Wall Street to create nothing. A concerted effort to secure our installations’ energy requirements, coupled with legislative support for incentives can redirect that flow of brain power into energy innovation that can be the driver for a second American century.

The report contains some excellent discussions of technologies to include the often overlooked, yet most cost effective avenues to energy security, conservation. Although focused on installations, there is an appendix for Expeditionary Energy Technologies. I highly recommend this report for energy experts and neophytes such as myself. It is an excellent resource.

Thanks to Mike Aimone, Energy Scout and Maven, for this tip.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spray Foam and Chihuahuas: Obstacles on the Road to Energy Security

The road to energy security is circular. You start out reducing your demand, via energy efficiency gains and process changes, find smart ways to distribute the required power and then bring in the renewables/alternatives to meet the diminished demand. Reduce, distribute, renew, repeat. Seems like a straightforward process. Yet we are hearing that even the easiest part of reducing demand has been slow rolled in Afghanistan of late.

Anybody who has followed energy efforts in our two war zones is familiar with the concept of spray foaming (with spray polyurethane foam) tents. For the uninitiated, the process developed by Joe Amadee and John Spiller involves spraying a quick hardening, insulating foam on temporary structures that aren't going anywhere. The process is done by trained contract professionals in a short period of time and provides a structure that is thermally and acoustically insulated with reduced air infiltration (read less dust) and 50 to 70% less fuel intensity necessary to heat and cool. Both the Marine Corps and Air Force Energy assessment teams recommended this procedure to decrease fuel use for power generation in Afghanistan.

There is an existing contract to do the work, but it being delayed because someone, somewhere is being treed by a Chihuahua. Despite testing and certification by the Army Safety folks, the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and a policy letter from the DASA, Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, concerns about mythical safety and disposal concerns abound. I have heard of a report where it is alleged that to dispose of the material will require shipping it back to the states for destruction. This is ludicrous and, frankly, borderline negligent. This material is landfilled in this country every single day. Of course, I am not sure if the Afghan EPA has higher standards than ours.
The reason this is of concern is not the dollar cost of the fuel; it is the cost in blood. It is difficult to assess the NATO casualties associated with fuel since no tactical convoy is carrying fuel alone. But it is easy if you ask the contractors responsible for delivering the fuel in Afghanistan. Here is a quote from an email I received:
By the way, I met with Supreme Fuel Afghanistan last week; they are the largest fuel contractor and have all of RC-South, Southwest and North. They have had 47 contracted fuel truck drivers (mostly TCN’s) KILLED this calendar year alone (361 KIA, 652 WIA since contract began)!! They have lost 97 fuel trucks in the last 6 weeks!! Dude, folks are still being killed moving fuel we wouldn’t need if energy efficiency was REALLY enough of a priority in DOD to cause leadership to establish POLICY to require it.
Well said. In Afghanistan, fuel is delivered to the major bases by contractors without the benefit of military escort. This is different from Iraq, where at one time U.S. forces provided force protection and were suffering one casualty for every twenty four convoys. The fact that third country nationals (TCNs) are the targets does not diminish the cost in blood, it just keeps it from being headline news here.

Besides being a great solution (thanks Joe and John) now Congress wants to know how DoD is implementing this elegantly simple idea. In September of this year, the House Armed Services Committee asked the SECDEF to provide an:
... update prior to delivery of the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget request detailing the Department’s plan to reduce operational energy through technology and culture change, the approximate savings that may be achieved, approximate funding required, timeline for deployment, and cross-service efforts to maximize investments.
In the letter, they specifically cite the use of SPF on tents as an example of how to reduce significantly the approximately $9.34 billion spent on operational energy.

Spray foaming tents was always intended as a stop gap measure until a better solution could be found. The Acquisition community is working it hard. That being said, there are logistics solutions available today that would simple require a modification to LOGCAP contracting. SIPSWorldWide and SynoStructures (presentation by Synovision to Pacific Northwest Defense Association) are examples of shovel ready structures to replace spray foamed tents. Once we figure out how to include energy savings incentives in LOGCAP it will become a self solving problem. In the meantime, let’s use the tools we have at hand and not be treed by Chihuahuas; there are plenty of pit bulls out there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

CNAS Thoughts on DOD Energy Strategy: 30 Years to Cold Turkey

Working in the DOD energy arena for the past four years, one often feels as if they are shouting in a closed room. The Defense Energy Community tends to be a insular club with new members allowed in grudgingly and after a long vetting period. Now, however, other voices are picking up the cry.

John Nagl, president of the Center for A New American Security (CNAS) and Christine Parthemore, CNAS have published an excellent paper on how DoD must prepare for the post petroleum era. LTC(R), Professor, Doctor, Nagl was one of the rising stars in the Army with the intellect and courage to try to get the institution to examine itself. A combination of institutional inertia and growing opportunities to serve a larger purpose brought Nagl to CNAS and he has now turned that intellect to the issue of energy and national security. In the paper, he and Ms. Parthemore make the argument for why DOD must have a coherent energy strategy vice the islands of excellence we now see. They envision a clear goal that goes beyond the current stair step time and percentage goals now on the books. Their recommendation is for a three decade effort to replace fossil fuels for DOD use.

Nagl and Parthemore lay out an eleven step program to break DOD’s oil addiction. We personally wish they had added a 12th step, but that is only a function of a sick sense of humor. Their program will require change not only within DOD, but the modification of procedures, policy and law well beyond DOD’s sphere of influence. In essence they are calling for a national strategic effort with DOD as the change agent. As Tom Friedman likes to say, “When the military goes green, the country will go green”.

We highly recommend all operational and institutional energy players study this plan. It is a concept, not a blueprint. It will require adaptation, but a couple of the bold ideas should be embraced immediately. Their idea for investing for maximum impact, increasing incentives and streamlining DOD energy management deserve immediate attention. Keep up the fire!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A visit to the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Display and some SAGE advice

This is the final post on the Army’s Energy Security Panel that featured, the HON Katherine Hammack Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, LTG Rick Lynch, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management/Commanding General, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr. Chief of Engineers/Commanding General United States Army Corps of Engineers); and LTG Michael A. Vane Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARCIC). Prior to the panel discussion, Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli provided their thoughts and guidance to a crowd of over 200 military, civilian and industry participants. After the final speaker, we went to the floor of the convention center to see what was being doing about the challenges of energy on the battlefield and at installations. What we were expecting was an acquisition solution. What we found was a surprise.

What was surprising was that we found a logistics solution. The solution was an effort of teaming by the Army’s G4, Logistics, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installations, Energy and Environment and the Training and Doctrine Command. But we started out looking for the acquisition solution. When we visited the display by the Assistant Chief of Staff, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, we found nothing related to energy for the FOB or installation. When asked about this, the good folks at the display told us to go check with TRADOC. No formal requirement (TRADOC), no program (ASA, AL&T). Apparently, however, there is an informal requirement.

The Smart and Green Energy (SAGE) for base camps is an effort by the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics through his field operating agency, the Logistics Innovation Agency with support from DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to reduce demand and increase the use of renewable energy for medium sized forward operating bases. The customer for this effort is the C-7 (Engineer) U.S. Army Central Command. The goal is to develop a Government-owned, open source, design specification for an energy savings, smart micro grid for theater basecamps where grid construction can be done by military or LOGCAP. It consists of energy sources, smart micro grid technologies, storage and power generation and energy efficient shelters. The design is targeted to support a 500-3000 man FOB with a 30-60% reduction in JP8 demand for power generation.

The C-7 at ARCENT asked the G4 at the department of the Army to get them a solution to the vulnerability of long lines of logistics to power the FOBs. The G4 turned to the LIA (more to follow on them) who went to work. They are producing a logistics solution vice an acquisition solution. They are drawing on the expertise of the Department of Energy labs such as Pacific Northwestern National Lab (PNNL) and off the shelf utility industry technologies that are mature and proven. And since PNNL is also working the Joint Concept Technology Demonstration, SPIDERS (smart microgrid) both programs can be accelerated by shared knowledge. LIA is working on a systems approach to energy that requires reduced demand, smart distribution and alternative energy production and storage.

While TRADOC is working on the requirements, the G4 is delivering the product. Our conversation with LIA indicated that they are working closely with Program Manager (PM) for Force Sustainment Systems and with PM, Mobile Electric Power. TRADOC’s resident rocket scientist and energy mavin, COL Paul Roege was working the SAGE booth, so it is safe to say that what LIA learns will be incorporated into whatever the system of record becomes. What is encouraging is that, where the acquisition solution will likely take seven years (once the requirement is defined) this small logistics solution goes to testing next spring. IF properly resourced, the soldiers of ARCENT could see the benefits in decreased fuel convoys in a year. Less fuel is less risk and that is everyone’s goal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today's Must Read if You Are Planning a Trip to Afghanistan to Look at Energy Use

Great Article in the National Strategy Forum Review by a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Oliver Fritz. Besides membership in the CFR and a master's in Security Studies from MIT, Mr. Fritz also works in the Office of the Director for Operational Energy Plans and Policies.
This thoughtful and informative piece provides an excellent overview of why energy is a strategic issue for the Department. For example, a $1 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil cost DoD $130 million in annual energy costs. The article also highlights what is going on in DoD energy efforts to include the Net Zero Plus JCTD (picture) now drawing to a close. The way ahead for DoD is to follow the USMC lead in the Commandant's Guidance recently published. Set the goal, establish responsibility, allocate the resources and hold people accountable for the resources expended in pursuit of the goal. What could be easier?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mythbusters and the $400 gallon of fuel: Under Secretary of the Army Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff GEN Chiarelli headed for Afghanistan.

Following their appearance at the Energy Forum at AUSA on 27 Oct, Westphal and Chiarelli held a press conference where they announce that they would be headed to theater to understand their Service's energy use. Several articles have been written about it. What is unfortunate is that in a couple of the articles we find the perpetuation of a myth that needs to be busted.

Every now and then it is important to revisit bits of information that have entered the realm of lore. One such bit of info that has become mythical is the $400 gallon of fuel. This number has been quoted, always as an extreme case, by DoD leadership. Others have used it as typical of fuel in war zones and still others consider it not only typical, but low balled. It’s time for a little reality check.

First of all, the number is used as an example of the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel (FBCF). The Defense Acquisition Guidance defines FBCF as : “the cost of the fuel itself (typically the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) standard price) plus the apportioned cost of all of the fuel delivery logistics and related force protection required beyond the DESC point of sale to ensure refueling of this system. “

The purpose of the FBCF is to evaluate new systems and platforms during the Analysis of Alternatives portion of the requirements process known as the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System. Materiel solutions will be considered more competitive that require less support infrastructure; that have a lower power requirement and are more energy efficient. This will allow DoD to understand the implications of energy use in a given scenario. The FBCF is completely scenario driven based upon point to point movement of a specific variety (road march, attack, retrograde, etc). There can be no generic FBCF. So how did we get $400 a gallon?

In the Report of the Defense Science Board, More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden, published in May 2001, the Board envisioned various scenarios in which what they called the “true cost of fuel” was computed. One of the scenarios postulated in the DSB report was fuel delivery to a ground mobile force 600 kilometers beyond the Forward Edge of the Battle Area, back when we had front lines. In this scenario the fuel would be delivered by CH-47 helicopters flying in three legs to Forward Area Rearm, Refuel Points (FARRP) and requiring a full fuel load for each A/C at each FARRP. For a 1,500 gallon payload in each A/C and three stops there and three stops back, the cost per gallon was $400.

This may indeed be an accurate number for an extreme scenario. Both the Marine Corps t and the Air Force Energy Assessment Teams found the number, on average, to be $12 to $20 a gallon (depending on distance traveled). Is it possible to envision even more extreme scenarios? Of course. The FBCF is an acquisition tool and should be used as such. I would much rather we considered the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel in Blood. When we consider the amount of combat power we consume protecting long lines of communication and the casualties incurred in those missions, we have a much more sobering factor.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Purple Energy Warrior: Geiss to Air Force Energy Post

Just a quick note to say congratulations to Dr. Kevin Geiss on his appointment as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy. For the past couple of years, Dr. Geiss has anchored the Army Energy Team as the Program Director for Energy Security. He is coming back to the Air Force via the Army and the White House. He previously serve in AFRL at Wright-Patterson AFB. And as you can tell by his haircut, he is a former Marine. With experience in all Services that qualifies him as purple. We wish him the best of luck in executing the Air Force energy agenda.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

USMC Leadership: Guidance, Resources and a Suspense Date

Recently, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, issued his “Commandant’s Planning Guidance” . In the guidance the Commandant envisions a globalized world, with a youthful demographic, pressured by a lack of education and opportunity. The continued competition for scarce natural resources – fossil fuel, food and water - and the rise of new powers and shifting relationships will create the future security environment. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described the resulting hybrid warfare as the “lethality of state conflict with the fanatical and protracted fervor of irregular warfare, where Microsoft coexists with machetes, and stealth is met by suicide bombers.”

The Commandant sees this world as requiring the expeditionary capabilities that only the Marines can provide. For the Corps, “Expeditionary” is more about a state of mind than just a capability and one senses that Marines feel they have sacrificed this in 8 years of continuous conflict. The Commandant seeks to re-invigorate this capability, this mindset, so that the Corps can continue to be the inherently agile force that can buy time for the Nation to react. He wants a Marine Corps that is “a multi-capable, combined arms force, comfortable operating at the high and low ends of the threat spectrum, or in the shaded areas where they overlap”. He wants a Marine Corps that can stand at that proverbial door and (in my favorite excerpt) “we possess the finesse, the training and the tools to knock at the door diplomatically, pick the lock skillfully, or kick it in violently”.

GEN Amos’ priorities are crystal clear:

  • We will continue to provide the best trained and equipped Marine units to Afghanistan. This will not change. This remains our top priority!
  • We will rebalance our Corps, posture it for the future and aggressively experiment with and implement new capabilities and organizations.
  • We will better educate and train our Marines to succeed in distributed operations and increasingly complex environments.
  • We will keep faith with our Marines, our Sailors and our families.

Under rebalancing the Corps he makes energy efficiency and reduced consumption a priority for a Corps able to operate lighter and faster, a return to their expeditionary roots. The Commandant specifically calls out the effort of the Expeditionary Energy Office and charges them with the goals of “reduced energy demand in our platforms and systems, self-sufficiency in our battlefield sustainment, and a reduced expeditionary foot print on the battlefield”. More than just goals, GEN Amos requires the production of a plan to be implemented in FY11 and fully funded in POM 13 budget cycle that will, “Concentrate on three major areas: (1) increase the use of renewable energy, (2) instilling an ethos of energy efficiency, (3) increase the efficiency of equipment”. The intent is a lighter, faster agile Corps that is less dependent on bulk supplies. The plan is due on 18 February 2011. As U.S. Army IMCOM commander, LTG Lynch likes to say, a vision without resources is an hallucination. A plan without a due date is a rolling briefing.

Good on the USMC for this definitive guidance. It has a requirement to resource and a suspense date. Now that is leadership you can believe in. If they make the plan public, we will have comments on the 19th.

Thanks to Mike Aimone for the tip.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Requirements, Initial Capabilities and getting the Acquisition Train Rolling.

From the AUSA Meeting and Convention, Washington D.C. This is the follow up to our previous post on the Army’s Energy Security Panel that featured, the HON Katherine Hammack Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, LTG Rick Lynch, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management/Commanding General, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr. Chief of Engineers/ Commanding General United States Army Corps of Engineers); and LTG Michael A. Vane Director (pictured), Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARCIC). Prior to the panel discussion, Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli provided their thoughts and guidance to a crowd of over 200 military, civilian and industry participants. LTG Van Antwerp was followed by LTG Vane

In a previous post we describe the Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) role in transforming battlefield requirements into acquisition programs that meet those needs. TRADOC was ably represented on the energy panel (a first, we believe) by LTG Mike Vane. Vane brought home the challenges of operational energy for ground forces. From the twenty six major convoys a day taking upwards of forty five days enroute, to the 16 gallons a day per soldier, the challenges of keeping a modern, high tech Army in the field for years at a time have taken their toll. As he said, “supply chains with only one source are a golden opportunity for our enemy”. His job is to determine the requirements and the capabilities necessary to ensure the force can sustain itself not for day, not for weeks, but for years.

This is something our Army has rarely experienced and which it is just acknowledging. There has been discussion, but until TRADOC acts, no requirements are generated and therefor no material solutions are required. The publication of the Army’s Operating Concept for 2016-2028 has begun that process. Published in August of this year, the AOC describes “two big ideas”: combined arms operations and wide area security. The former means we have to use all the elements of national power to win and the later means to “consolidate gains, stabilize environments and ensure freedom of action”. In other words, what we should have been doing the last 7 years. It also means that the Army anticipates more of the same, so the challenges for energy will not change.

The initial energy White Paper describing the challenge is done. Next will be the Interim Capability Document that will describe what is necessary to prosecute operation in persistent conflict. This document will describe the requirements that must be met by the acquisition corps (GEN Chiarelli will help accelerate that process, I am sure).

In addition to describing the general capabilities necessary for support in persistent conflict, the ARCIC will produce a document describing the interim capabilities of the Base Camp. As one grizzled NCO told me in Afghanistan, “if you have seen one FOB, you have seen one FOB”. There will not be a cookie cutter solutions for our forward operating bases, but essential capabilities will remain the same. We will still need electricity to power the tools that provide our competitive advantage on the battlefield. We will still require motive power to get to the places we need to influence. We just need to be able to accomplish this without creating a target rich environment for our enemies. TRADOC must lead the way and the Acquisition Corps must execute violently. We are already behind.

Next installment: A visit with to the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Display and some SAGE advice

Sunday, October 31, 2010

LTG Van Antwerp, Inventor’s Son and Energy Cheerleader

From the AUSA Meeting and Convention, Washington D.C. This is the follow up to our previous post on the Army’s Energy Security Panel that featured, the HON Katherine Hammack Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, LTG Rick Lynch, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management/Commanding General, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr. Chief of Engineers/ Commanding General United States Army Corps of Engineers); and LTG Michael A. Vane Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARCIC). Prior to the panel discussion, Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli provided their thoughts and guidance to a crowd of over 200 military, civilian and industry participants. LTG Lynch’s comments were followed by LTG Van Antwerp (pictured)

LTG Van Antwerp is the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE). He is also the son of the inventor of the belt drive turntable. The general described a childhood with a basement full of inventions and a father who would say, “Now, let’s think about this.”. An inquisitive mind is exactly what is required for his post and he has demonstrated the ability to turn inspiration into innovation and implementation. He is also a self-described “cheerleader for energy”. He may also be the only three star with his own blog! Van Antwerp talked about the goals the Corps has set for itself in energy. He also played a short video called “Did You Know”. If you have not seen this, you must. It describes a world of complexity, of information overload and constant change with which many are ill prepared to cope. We must become masters of innovation for this world. One of those innovations might be to collocate the responsibility to build and maintain the Army's permanent infrastructure.

Today, the USACOE is responsible for the military construction of new facilities to the standard of LEED Silver. But they are also graded on the number of square feet they build per dollar. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) is responsible for the cost of maintaining these buildings, but has little say in the specifications for them. LEED Silver is a good standard, but in some cases, LEED points can be gained by attributes that do not affect building efficiency. Each bicycle rack is one point. One rack, one point; five racks, five points. Double paned windows and spray foam insulation for the roof might be a better energy investment, but they don’t increase the square feet and do increase the sunk cost. They reduce the cost to maintain, but that is on someone else’s books.

We are sure that USACOE and IMCOM are working closely to balance the equation and the books. But just in case they are not, it is worth a look. LTG Van Antwerp is clearly motivated to help realize the ASA, IE&E’s vision for net zero energy, water and waste and has some innovative programs such as rain water capture at the Fort Belvoir hospital to demonstrate that commitment. Cheerleaders are great, but we need players that can get in the game and hit as well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Army Energy Leadership on Display: AUSA Part 1 of 4

From the AUSA Meeting and Convention, Washington D.C. This is the follow up to our previous post on the Army’s Energy Security Panel that featured, the HON Katherine Hammack Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment, LTG Rick Lynch (pictured), Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management/Commanding General, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr. Chief of Engineers/Commanding General United States Army Corps of Engineers); and LTG Michael A. Vane Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARCIC). Prior to the panel discussion, Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli provided their thoughts and guidance to a crowd of over 200 military, civilian and industry participants.

Ms. Hammack outlined the Army’s goals for energy and sustainability. Her new and wide ranging portfolio includes installation and operational energy as well as responsibilities for other natural resources. She described goals for Net Zero for energy, water and waste. This bold, holistic approach has the potential to unite the islands of excellence we now have into a systems approach that reduces demand, smartly distributes and uses and reuses our resources responsibly. It is a moon shot goal.

Ms. Hammack was followed by LTG Rick Lynch from IMCOM. IMCOM is responsible for the physical plant of the Army and oversees millions of square feet of building space, a $28 Billion budget and a workforce of 120,000 employees. Lynch has a folksy manner, but is deadly serious about energy security. He takes a pragmatic, soldier’s approach to his daunting task. Lynch has devised a comprehensive strategy for IMCOM composed of various lines of operations. One of these is energy. He sees the advantage to reducing his $1.7 billion “Light Bill” (utilities cost) by 30%. He has instituted a measure to ensure that every post, camp and station has a dedicated energy manager, not as a collateral duty but as their mission in life. They will have access to the command group to ensure their voice is heard. Lynch seeks to apply his “Three Questions” to energy: 1. Are we doing the right thing? 2. Are we doing things right? 3. What are we missing?. We recommend these for everyone with a hand in energy security.

LTG Lynch had the most memorable comment of the panel discussion. “Vision without resources is a hallucination.” He also recognizes the criticality of creating incentives, not just at the installation level, but for individuals occupying family housing. Working with the privatized housing organization, programs have been established to baseline average utilities cost and then bill or reward housing occupants for exceeding or conserving energy use over a given time period. Lynch reported that over 80% of participants are receiving rebates. LTG Lynch has given authority to commanders to meet their responsibilities. The next step is accountability and the carrot or the stick.

Next installment: LTG Van Antwerp, Inventor’s Son and Energy Cheerleader.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Army Energy Leadership on Display

From the AUSA Meeting and Convention, Washington D.C. Today, members of the Army leadership focused on the challenges of energy security for a Service fighting two wars and under the stress of nine years of continuous conflict. With the massive and immediate burdens of maintain the health, welfare and effectiveness of the Soldiers, their families and the mechanism of war it is often difficult to look over the horizon and consider the implication of our profligate energy use. For the Army, despite a letter signed by the Secretary, CSA and CSMA, it has not been a top 10 priority. Until today.

The panel was hosted by HON Katherine Hammack Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations, Energy and Environment and composed of LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr. Chief of Engineers/Commanding General United States Army Corps of Engineers; LTG Michael A. Vane Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command and LTG Rick Lynch, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management/Commanding General, Installation Management Command. Dr. Marilyn M. Freeman, Ph.D. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology was supposed to speak, but was unable to attend and sent a gentlemen who showed us slogans disguised as equations.

One of Ms. Hammond’s first announcements was that of Richard Kidd as the new DASA, Energy and Partnership (see previous entry). Welcome back to the Army, Rich.

The surprise of the morning was the two unlisted leadoff hitters: Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal (pictured) and the new leader of the Army Greenhawks, Vice Chief of Staff Pete Chiarelli. Dr. Westphal reminisced about his days in the Carter Administration and Carter’s "Crisis of Confidence speech and its plan to end our addiction to foreign oil. This was clearly an idea whose time had not yet come. Dr. Westphal now has an opportunity to bring an old idea to a new, more receptive audience. GEN Chiarelli continued his theme pushing the speed of deployment of technologies and techniques that reduce the burden of fuel and energy at forward operating bases and installations. He emphasized the importance of the execution of the Army Energy Security Implementation Strategy (AESIS). He also does a great Alex Rodriguez impersonation.

We will follow with more detail on the presentations by each of the empanelled speakers, but the significance of this event was the appearance of the Army’s second most senior leaders in uniform and mufti. Their presence and remarks indicated a sea change (dirt change?) in how the Army looks at energy. The next most significant event to watch for is the application of resource to the AESIP. LTG Rick Lynch led off his remarks (more to follow) with one of my favorite sayings. Vision without resources is a hallucination. As DoD soldiers on under a continuing resolution, we will scour the budget documents to see if the AESIS is a vision or a mirage.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Kidd on the Block: Army Names DASA, E&P

DOD and the Department of the Army named Richard Kidd as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Partnership. This post, vacant for nearly two years, is responsible for Army Energy Security and, among other things, Utilities Privatization.

Mr. Kidd, a 1986 West Point grad and former Infantry Officer, has extensive experience in government, serving with the U.N., State Department and Department of Energy. Most recently he was responsible for the Federal Energy Management Program. No one has more extensive knowledge of the mandates and policies surrounding energy that are profligate in the Federal Government. In that position he worked tirelessly to promote closer relationships between DOE and DOD. This culminated in an agreement signed in July 2010. The MOU focuses on cooperation between the agencies to enhance energy security. Kidd inherits the Army Energy Strategy Implementation Plan which focuses on “identifying, integrating and executing specific actions to achieve the Energy Security Objectives (ESOs)”. We wish him the best of luck as he works to identify the resources necessary to execute this very ambitious strategy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Amateur Tactics and Professional Logistics: The NSN and Secure LOCs

Sara Moore with the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System had a great article on a new northern supply route into Afghanistan. The Defense Logistics Agency felt that they could open a route from Germany that would move supplies in 30 to 50 days. Two trucks carrying two 20 ft containers each drove from German to Bagram, Afghanistan. This was intended to provide relief in the event that either of the two routes from Pakistan were to be closed. Again. The recent closing of the Torkham crossing caused great consternation. There even appears to be some concern that the Pakistani routes will be abandoned altogether. It was reopened recently. In an unrelated article, the U.S. just approved $2.29 billion in military aid to Pakistan.

The good news about the northern route was the reduction in travel time. The bad news is that the Taliban is reading the newspaper in Pakistan. A recent increase in attacks against the Northern Distribution Network (NSN) has been noted by NATO. On the Pakistan route we had to worry about Pakistan. On the NDN we will have to worry about Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. We do not have to worry about the Russians. They have already refused rights to move military material across their land.

Redundant lines of communications are a must in any military operation. But if 70% of what we are hauling overland is bulk fluids and, as the Marines have found, there is the possibility to reduce the water burden by using local supplies that do not impact the local population, then we need to focus on reducing the fuel burden. Unless we produce certified biofuels locally, we will still have to haul in our mobility fuel. The focus must be on demand reduction and then, renewable energy for power production at our forward operating bases, again as the Marines have done with India Company, 3rd of the 5th Marines. The challenge there is the agility of the acquisition agencies. The tools for demand reduction are there and in use; the RE is in short supply. We heard loud and clear last week from the policy side of the house. We now must turn words into action.

The Association of the United States Army is meeting for their Winter Convention this week in Washington. The associated tradeshow is a cornucopia of military capability. What COMDEX is to wireheads, AUSA is for warheads (yours truly included). I will attend and report back on energy trends for installations and FOBs. The pickings have been slim in recent shows as regards energy; it will be interesting to see what the professionals are thinking now. Whether it is potential or kinetic, it is all about energy. Dan Nolan