Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DOEPP Candidate Burke Gets Her Day in SASC Court

June/July 2010 Update: Burke is confirmed! See here.
It's been a long time coming, but now not only has the Director of Operational Energy position been created and a candidate nominated, but earlier this week Sharon Burke of CNAS sat with other nominees for DOD leadership positions to answer questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).

You can read 23 pages of pre-hearing questions and answers on your own, but I've pulled out what I think is the most important response right here:
Q: In your view, what are the major challenges that will confront the DOEPP?
A: The primary challenge confronting the DOEPP will be to change a longstanding, underlying assumption across the defense enterprise that energy will always be relatively cheap and available where it is needed, when it is needed. Moreover, in addressing this challenge, the DOEPP will have to confront the reality that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A successful operational energy strategy for the Department will have to place high priority on improving the energy posture of deployed forces, both in forward operating positions and in support bases, for example, at the same time that it incorporates energy considerations into DoD’s normal business processes, from wargaming to requirements to budgeting. If confirmed, I expect to find these challenges eased by the growing, pervasive awareness of the importance of the Department’s energy posture, given experiences in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. If DoD incorporates energy as both an enabler and as a liability in how it designs and builds the force, we can make major improvements in our capability, flexibility, effectiveness, affordability, and sustainability. In this way, energy can be a strategic and tactical advantage for U.S. forces, rather than a significant source of risk (my emphasis).
You can also watch an archived video version of the hearing by clicking here. While I may have missed a thing or two, you can go straight to questions to Ms. Burke by dragging the progress bar to these time markers: 39:00, 79:00, 85:23, 95:20, 106:20, 126:40

At a minimum, recommend you listen to former Senator and SASC Chairman John Warner's introduction to the position, and to Ms. Burke as a candidate, beginning at the 39 minute mark.

I noted in her responses the articulation of two primary priorities for the DOEPP:
  1. Improve the effectiveness of our deployed forces - by reducing their vulnerability to reliance on energy. In particular, to fuel lines in Afghanistan
  2. DOD business process change - to implement the "full cost and full burden of energy" into everything the Department does
It may be a nearly impossible job, but I believe Burke is locked onto the right challenges, and am keen to see what happens if/when she gets the green light.

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