Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time for a Leader: Who'll take the Reins in DOD Industry Energy Reform?

The 4Q09 edition of the journal Defense Concepts published by the journal of Center for Advanced Defense Studies (CADS) has a nice energy chicken-or-the-egg piece. Titled, "Defense Industry Energy Reform: Incentives and Capabilities," it examines the roles of DOD and the Aerospace & Defense industry as potential catalysts in bringing new approaches to energy to DOD and its warfighters.

Written and and researched by Benjamin Power and Steve Rotchtin, this paper does a good job of unpacking the business case (or mission case) for changing course on energy, both within the DOD and among its tech and services suppliers. Power and Rotchkin note that neither side is taking the lead so far:
The DOD has yet to institute comprehensively the type of structural changes that are necessary to address the military’s strategic energy vulnerability. Following the DOD’s lead, defense contractors have not yet made a clearly defined shift in the type of equipment that they produce. There are some indications of interest in energy efficient military technology from industry leaders like General Electric and Lockheed Martin, but these companies have been reluctant to invest heavily in this technology without a demonstrable accompanying shift in preference at the DOD. With legal constraints restraining sales of technology to certain customers, private industry’s development and investment in this field has mirrored that of the DOD.
Clearly, it's the military's role to specify what it needs to industry, not the other way around, though industry, by showing what's possible, might get DOD thinking differently about what's possible.

Written before the nomination of Sharon Burke for the DOD Director of Operational Energy, perhaps we'll see DOD move out more assertively in the near future. Though the case can be made for not holding your breath ... who knows if and when she'll get the actual nod from this very distracted Congress.

Click here for this issue of Defense Concepts. Energy article begins on page 33.

Photo Credit: Mary Clark on Flickr

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