In a recent post on the White House blog (thanks, J.B.) the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs (AS DOEPP), Sharon Burke brought our attention to a rapid development program sponsored by the Army’s Tank and Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Command in Warren, MI (TARDEC). The program, called the Fuel Efficiency Demonstrator-Alpha (FED-Alpha), produced a prototype vehicle that “has all the capability of an up-armored M1114 Humvee, but with modifications that can improve fuel economy by 70%”. I attended the industry day in September 2008 and in less than three years, the first prototype is unveiled. In the world of Acquisition, this is lightning speed. I hope that this process can be streamlined, is replicable and changes how we think about our current archaic process. But this is not the big new.
Ms. Burke goes on in the post to discuss a current move afoot in Congress to repeal the provisions of Sec 526. Essentially, Sec 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 says DOD can use no fuel whose production has greater carbon intensity than standard petroleum processing. Congress is considering language to repeal that provision. The ASDOEPP draws the connection between increases in greenhouse gases (GHG), climate change and security. Where previously DOD has planned for the implication of climate change, they have not directly attributed it to anthropogenic causes. In many cases they have avoided the discussion, in the words of one Navy official, “we don't want to get into a tail chase over climate change…”.
In a time when Congress’ efforts could be better spent, having an Administration official set the record straight is important and appropriate. The ideology behind the attempt to repeal Sec 526 is about denial of the causes of climate change, not about greater military flexibility. It was good to see Ms. Burke strip the camouflage from this waste of time. Dan Nolan