Friday, March 25, 2011

“We are Sparta" at 8 Gallons/Marine/Day: USMC Energy Strategy on the Street

Once again, the Devil Dogs are first ashore on energy with the publication of a comprehensive, directive and accountability based strategy. The Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Strategy and Implementation Plan was signed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps on 24 February 2011 and it sets the bar high. According to folks one step to the left and one to the rear, the CMC is fired up about it and wants to be aggressive. This is intended to get more teeth and less tail into the fight. The document is comprehensive in that it includes the vision, mission, scope, goals, initiatives and a way ahead. Most importantly, it includes the implementation guidance necessary to get the acquisition community rolling. More available at the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office website.

For you fans of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS), and I know you are out there, the next step is the Initial Capabilities Document and the Marines are ready to rock the JCIDS. They are completing staffing of the Expeditionary Energy, Water, and Waste Initial Capabilities Document (E2W2 ICD). For those not familiar with this document, the ICD identifies a capability gap or other deficiency in terms of the functional area, the relevant range of military operations, and the time frame. Key Performance Parameters (KPP), such as Energy are not included in the ICD. The ICD guides the Concept Refinement and Technology Development phases of the Defense Acquisition System and supports Analysis of Alternatives (AoA). The AoA is where the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel is used to compare alternatives in doctrine, organization, training, material, logistics, personnel and facilities. For industry: Gentlemen, start your engines! Class dismissed.

The document goes beyond the battlefield to embrace “the fifth element” of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force: bases, stations and Garrison Mobile Equipment. The goal? 50% will be Net Zero by 2020. Leathernecks will also take water and waste on as an element of the energy equation. The strategy is chock full of data point, examples and fun facts. Among those facts is that the new USMC metric for operational energy is Gallons Per Marine Per Day (GPMD). I would classify this metric as as good as any. The current number is eight GPMD. For installation energy the metric will continue to be the Defense Utility Energy Reporting System.

The Marine ICD is expected to identify 112 gaps capabilities and groups them into 29 tasks for resolution. It was created by three separate working groups consisting of SMEs from around the Corps. Will keep you posted on the deployment of this document.

One of the organizations drawing attention to the Marine energy effort is, of course, the ExFOB. It gets the press because it is a very visual example of what is being done (and not being done) in operational energy. That being said, in order to have real organizational impact, documents like the ICD are required. They start the wheels turning, money flowing and requirements for material necessary to engage industry. The ExFOB provides the initial energy capability and informs the requirements process in order to pursue technological solutions and programs of record that meet long term objectives.

The last major deployment of ExFOB kit was with India Company 3/5 Marines. The initial reports on that effort from the field were very positive. Next will be support for a battalion command and operations center this summer. As with the company set, the material solutions (hybrid PV/Gen/Btry system, DC air conditioners, tent liners, LED lights), will be tested in CONUS training and deployed only if operationally sound. We look forward to the outcome of this charrette (pun intended). Thanks to Amory Lovins for adding that to my lexicon. Dan Nolan

Friday, March 18, 2011

Conference Alert: 90 Minutes of Energy Innovation

On 31 March 2011 from 9:00 A.M. to 10:30 A.M at the Rayburn House Office Building, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will host a conference sponsored by the Information Technology Industry Council and Digital Energy Solutions Campaign, entitled "Operation Energy Innovation: A Stronger, Smarter Fighting Force". The intent for the program is to examine how "DOD can play a prime role in accelerating cleantech development". At this event we will get to hear from the Ven diagram of Operational and Installation Energy. Dr. Dorothy Robyn, DUSD, Installations and Environment and Ms. Sharon Burke, ASD, Operational Energy Plans and Programs will share the rostrum with Congressmen J. Randy Forbes and Adam Smith and a bevy of info tech industry mavins. The program is open to all comers and you can register for free at the link above. We will also get to hear from Tim Solms, the General Manager for the Microsoft DOD business, so Power Point Rangers, bring your questions! See you there. Dan Nolan

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mar 16 Update: DOD Moving Out on Japan Relief Operations

Mar 16: Here come the Marines! Further coverage in Journal today.


This article from the Wall Street Journal does a good job describing our initial rapid response with strong representation from the 7th Fleet (Navy) and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and Washington states' Lewis-McChord (Air Force) so far.

Photo credit: DVIDSHUB on

p.s. While this picture was taken during happier times, the Flickr site listed here already has some great shots of our folks in action, helping out in Japan right now. Recommend you check it out.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Operational Energy Launches its Web Site
The times they continue to change. Three years after the release of the 2nd DSB report on energy, we've not only got an ASD for Operational Energy, but the organization has a web site and Twitter account.

There's not much "there" there yet, but the existence of a site with links to the social media world means a heck of a lot as DOD moves out on energy strategy issues.

And in case you don't choose to visit the site yet, want to make sure you see the excellent statement it features from Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen:
Energy Security needs to be one of the first things we think about, before we deploy another soldier, before we build another ship or plane, and before we buy or fill another rucksack.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Clean Energy Deeds Done Dirty Cheap: Foam Done Right

In 2007 an Army study determined that the application of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) to the exterior of temporary structures (tents, SWA huts, etc.) would reduce energy requirements by 80% for power generation at forward operating bases. The picture above is what it looks like when it is done right. The structures are warmer, cooler, sound dampening (important for night shift folks) and are healthier (less dust in the interior). The work done to date in the AOR has saved over a billion of dollars. The cured SPF is nontoxic, fire-resistant and waterproof. The contracting officer must specify the contract according to standard, the contractor must be a professional of demonstrated ability and the contracting officer's technical representative must inspect the work to assure standards are met. Just like the FARs say.

At an Air Force energy conference in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, I heard government folks, who appeared not to have spent a day under canvas, disparage SPF. Since they worked in the R&D field for shelters, I dismissed it as the normal practice of finding fault with the current technology to promote their products. Then I received an article about a presentation Ms. Sharon Burke, ASD, Operational Energy Plans and Policy, presented at Harvard on operational energy with a continuation of the big lie.

I told you this story in order to tell you the next. Read on to the previous post.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strangled in the Crib: Good Ideas in Operational Energy

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy was recently at Harvard explaining what the military is doing to reduce energy use in theater. She told them about the egregious weight in batteries the troops are hauling on patrols, about 4 MPH vehicles and about the only program that has had a significant effect in cutting the use of energy for heating and cooling structures in the AOR. And then she told the audience that that one good idea had been abandoned because there was problem with the material (which is in use in millions of buildings in the U.S., interior and exterior), that there was a problem disposing of it (we landfill it in this country) and that the tents couldn’t be moved. The latter is a true statement, but the tents it was to be used on where not moving! Instead they were replaced every 2 or 3 years at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a piece.

I am a bit exercise about this because I was part of the team that put the concept together at the Army's Rapid Equipping Force. We even wrote a user manual that contained the clearance from the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (CHPPM) and the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC). There is a memo dated 5 Aug 2010 from the ASA, Installations and Environment with amplifying instructions on safety decisions. The Air Force issued a memo in April 2010 recommending the use. Finally an Engineering and Construction bulletin was published in May 2010 by the Army Corps of Engineers further amplifying the use instructions for the material. I found out that the use of the foam had been suspended in Afghanistan last summer, but could get no official response when I asked why. I ensured that Ms. Burke’s office had all this information, but never received a response. I suppose it could have gone in someone’s junk mail file……….

BG (R) Steve Anderson knows this works. GEN Petraus’ logistician in Iraq, Anderson knows the true cost of fuel in blood and dollars and what this elegantly simple solution provides. He has been on the ground and seen the results. He has tried to tell the story, but no one is listening. John Spiller, formerly of the now defunct Power Surety Task Force (another good idea killed), can tell the story. He wrote the book on foam, literally. The foam haters out there are the Chihuahuas who have treed the bureaucrats who in turn have turned away from the one system that worked. Yes, the tents can’t be moved. Yes, extra precautions must be taken to provide for exits. Yes, it will burn, but it will not flash over to other tents! Right now we are building plywood buildings in Afghanistan. I have seen them being built. I didn’t see a lot of trees while I was there. Wonder what the fully burdened cost of plywood would be? And I have frozen my butt off in plywood buildings from Kosovo to Afghanistan; they are not known for their energy efficient properties.

The picture shows me, standing in front of a tent that was done improperly. It was not coated, it was not dug in and it was not properly vented. This is what has gotten contracting officers worked up. But it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools. Had the contractor been held accountable by the COTR this would not have happened. John Spiller could have trained them. Joe Amadee could have. I’ve got their numbers if anyone in the office of the Operational Energy would like to speak with them. With All Due Respect, Dan Nolan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Posturing on Energy: Services Serve Notice

Intrepid scouts are reporting in on the annual proffering of the Posture Statements by the Joint Chiefs and Services. The Posture Statement is an unclassified summary of roles, missions, accomplishments, plans, and programs. The PS serves a broad audience as a basic reference on the state of the Military. They are required by NDAAs and are publicly available. This year’s crop paid quite a bit of attention to the challenges of energy security. Interesting extracts follow.

From the Navy: In the testimony of CNO Admiral Roughead before Congress, he mentioned energy in the context of a new carrier, unmanned underwater vehicles, shore readiness, training readiness, a section on energy and climate, and his favorite recipe for grog (last one is not true; he would never reveal that). Energy is pervasive in the Navy posture, with investment for building efficiency and reducing the cost of at sea training via modeling and simulation. One area that the Navy gets right that the other Services should examine is their emphasis on technical and behavior changes. The difference here is that one often hears discussions of culture change. As Drex Kleber has pointed out, “Military culture is fine; it’s the behavior we need to change”. The fact is military culture is perfect for changing behavior. We just need the leadership emphasis. A little accountability goes along way. From carriers to riverine craft to Green Hornets, the Navy is moving out on energy. The Marine Corps will be releasing their energy strategy very shortly. We look forward to that.

From the Air Force: 99% of the USAF aircraft fleet is now certified for unrestricted use of synthetic aviation fuel bled. It should be noted that this is only for coal and natural gas to liquid via Fischer Tropsch, a rather greenhouse gas intensive process. Unfortunately, Sec 527 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 prohibits fuels that are more GHG intensive than conventional processing. The AF fuel certification office is still working on HRJ with other fuels still in the queue for certification. Need to plus up that office, Sir! From the expeditionary front, the AF says that they will reduce their electrical load by 50% by using shelters with PV flys that generate a minimum of 3KW a shelter. These are some high powered flys and I look forward to seeing them. They are also in the portable, expandable microgrid business. I hope they are working with the dozens of projects on going elsewhere in the Services. The one warning note was a statement that said, “While the peacetime flying hour program is fully funded, reprogramming may be necessary to cover increased fuel costs due to the volatility of fuel prices”. Looks like we know who will pay for increased fuel prices as a result of uncertainty in Libya: the men and women who may be asked to dominate the sky over that troubled land.

From the Army: The Senior Service is focusing hard on Net Zero. They cite projects from a Fort Sill microgrid to (still) foaming tents. The Army is also including the fully burdened cost of fuel in the analysis of alternative for the JLTV and the Armed Aerial Scout. This should prove interesting. In addition to the efforts of the regular force, the Army Reserve and National Guard are taking on some very interesting projects. As part of its educational effort the ARNG is deploying a mobile learning center focused on energy. The Energy Lab is traveling to high schools around the country to show the flag, increase recruiting and “to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) literacy to high school students across the nation. In The Energy Lab tour vehicle, students explore the math and science behind energy efficiency and the renewable and non-renewable resources that drive many current and future STEM career fields”. This is a strategic mission that DOD has taken on as part of the STEM Education Outreach Plan.

The inclusion of energy security in these statements demonstrates the leadership’s commitment to reducing demand, smart distribution and alternative and renewable power production. The hundreds of millions distributed via the ARRA are not likely to be repeated so it will be informative to see where the Services back up these statements with the commitment of dollars. Otherwise, it is just posturing. Dan Nolan

JCS Posture Statement

USN Posture Statement

USAF Posture Statement

USA Posture Statement