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.

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