Executive Order (EO) 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," was signed by President Obama on 5 October 2009. One of the provisions of this order was a requirement for each federal agency to “develop, implement and annually update a plan that prioritizes actions based on a positive return on investment for the American taxpayer and to meet energy, water, and waste reduction targets”. This past week, Dr. Ashton Carter, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD, AT&L), in his capacity as the DoD Senior Sustainability Officer, released the DoD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) . The Plan provides the vision for Departments in regard to sustainability is “to maintain the ability to operate into the future without decline – either in the mission or in the natural and manufactured systems that support it.” It covers four key areas: Energy and Reliance on Fossil Fuels, Chemicals of Environmental Concern, Water Resources Management, and Maintaining Readiness in the Face of Climate Change. These areas are translated into Objectives and then further refined with subordinate goals and sub goals. The sub goals provide specific management objectives to ensure the continued availability of resources critical to mission accomplishment, focus DoD to serve as a leader in the USG in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, emphasize minimizing waste and pollution and stress continuously improving mission accomplishment through management practices built on sustainability and community.
Energy efficient acquisition is addressed in the form of energy as a key performance parameter and the use of the fully burdened cost of fuel. Coming from the pen of the Acquisition Executive, I am encouraged that the community will not find a way to avoid these considerations as we look at the next generation of materiel solutions.
The plan contains an excellent summation of efforts to date as well as clear definition of the leadership structure developed to implement plan. This is one area for which DoD has been chided continually. The USD, AT&L serves as the Department’s Senior Sustainability Official and overseer of the Senior Sustainability Council (SSC). The SSC finally brings together the operational as well as the installation energy players. This council will be co-chaired by Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment (USD, I&E), Dr. Dorothy Robyn and the newly appointed Director of Operational Energy Plans and Policy (DOEPP), Sharon Burke. The SSC in turn directs the efforts of the Sustainability Implementation Working Group (SIWG) who is charged with “drafting input to the Plan and facilitating compliance and continual improvement in meeting the Plan goals.”. This group will work with existing DoD committees and working groups to address specific issues.
The ninety nine pages of the report provide an excellent and comprehensive strategic view of what is necessary for DoD to be able to sustain its mission worldwide. Energy cannot stand alone, but must be considered within the context of sustainability. The four objectives, eight goals and 21 sub goals create a holistic approach that provides the Services the starting blocks for their own sustainability strategies.
To achieve success, all strategic plans must be linked to tactical execution by the employment of the operational art. Operational art deals with “theory and practice of planning, preparing, conducting, and sustaining major operations and campaigns aimed at accomplishing operational or strategic objectives in a theater” (Joint Publication 3-0) . In the context of the SSPP it means that the Services must translate the goals and sub goals of the plan into specific responsibilities, authorities, and accountability. The operational art will be the responsibility of the SIWG as it works with the Service representatives and organizations to translate the goals in to tasks, dollars and carrots or sticks.
For example, will each building at the Air Force Academy have to reduce its energy intensity by 37.5% by 2020 from the 2003 baseline or is it just the Air Force Academy in total or the Air Force in aggregate? Who is responsible for the goal, who controls the resources to accomplish the goal and who gets the carrot or stick when goal achievement is measured? That will be the next big challenge. The DoD SSPP brings together the operational and installation players in a common forum. Will the Services be able to bring together their own factions for a common effort? These are the challenges that lie ahead in the evolution of energy security and sustainable operations. It is my sincere hope that as DoD goes through major reductions to garner the savings the Secretary of Defense seeks in the coming years, that evolution is not starved for resources. The SSPP is a great start; it will be up to the Services to translate that vision into action and energy security.
P.S. Congratulations to Tom Morehouse for his selection as the DoD Principal Deputy for operational energy plans and program. Tom is one of the “gray beards” in the Defense Energy Community and will bring unmatched depth of knowledge to this key position. Well done, Deputy DOEPP!