Monday, February 13, 2012

The Basic Bond of Leadership: Trusting DOD with Energy Security

“Trust is the basic bond of leadership.” General (R) Frederick M. Franks, Jr.  For those of you who don’t know “Franks, the Greater”, a nickname given by General (R) Tommy Franks, read Tom Clancy’s book, written with Fred Franks, “Into the Storm”.  He is also featured in “It Starts with Humility”  , by Dr. Merwyn Hayes.He is one of America’s greatest military heroes, the architect of the Desert Storm's 100 hour war (sorry, General Schwartzkopf) and the most inspiring leader I ever met.  I worked directly for GEN Franks for three years at VII Corps and when he commanded Training and Doctrine Command.  His emphasis on trust as the keystone of leadership was driven by his deep belief in values as the bedrock of any organization.  Shared values engenders trust.  Trust inspires the joint pursuit of a well articulated vision and shared vision leads to ultimate success. With out it, the people perish. 

So what?  The so what is that the American public has lost faith in the government's ability to get things done, specifically, the creation of a shared vision for an energy policy.  But, apparently, the current administration took heed of the last several polls on “Confidence in Institution” by Gallup.  The U.S. Military has been the most trusted institution in America for years. That trust may now be transformed into leadership in the energy sector.  After the disaster that was Solyndra, the Administration is looking for someone to lead us out of the wilderness of, not a failed energy policy, but no energy policy.  Where other budgets are shrinking, the energy budget for DOD may be expanding. 

When the President (7th on the trust list) roles out his 2013 budget this week, it is expected that funding for DOD energy programs will be plused up.  A dysfunctional Congress (dead last on the trust list) who would be unlikely to support funding for DOE programs, will back DOD running with the ball.  Republicans appear to be lining up behind the idea already.  As quoted in the article:

“I do expect to see the spending,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, when asked about increased investment in alternative-energy programs at the Pentagon. “I think in the past three to five years this has been going on, but that it has grown as a culture and a practice – and it’s a good thing.  If Israel attacks Iran, and we have to go to war – and the Straits of Hormuz are closed for a week or a month and the price of fuel is going to be high, the question is, in the military, what do you replace it with? It’s not something you just do for the ozone. It’s strategic.” 

This is very encouraging.  The President, Congress and the American people trust DOD to get it done.  Republicans see it as a strategic move for energy security.  Democrats see it as backing a proven track record to develop a nascent industry.  Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have agreement on a single issue?  Trust is the basic bond of leadership and leadership in energy is what the country needs.  An American energy industry (not just oil companies) could be the driving force behind the economy that information technology once was, an industry sparked to life by DOD needs.   Why DOD would do this is simple and straight forward.  It is about energy security that has tactical, operational and strategic relevance.  That it will have a positive effect on the economy, that grid security could improve and that climate change may be beneficially affected are merely bonus effects.  Trust me. Coach, put DOD in; halftime is over.   Dan Nolan  


TC Moore said...

Dan my brother, you are no doubt surprised that I will disagree with you. Even if the American public's trust in the DoD is well placed, it does not follow that the DoD should assume this role. First, the DoD is an authoritarian organization and methods that work inside the DoD, dont work so well outside. The DoD does a remarkable job shaping young men and women into warriors, but the techniques used in bootcamp don't translate well to civilian institutions. The DoD can choose equipment and TTPs that support a particular goal regardless of the cost, but not so for the civilian economy. Government can try to regulate behavior through fiat or legislation, but unlike a military unit where common purpose causes individuals to pull together, individuals in society will always seek solutions that benefit themselves and resist all normative artificial pressures. This selfish outlook isn't good or bad, it just is. As you know, I strongly encourage the DoD to seek operational and tactical energy solutions, but attempting to lead strategic change is a recipe for failure.

B Bergoo said...

TC, It’s true that the DOD’s internal leadership strategies, directly employed, would not be successful in engendering a cultural shift in the American public with regard to energy use. I don’t believe, though, that the DOD believes this either; the way in which DOD can (and has already begun to) affect cultural change is much more subtle, through dissemination of information –and trust – via its warfighters. As soldiers return from war with not only a new understanding of the strategic importance of energy but also a new openness to energy substitution and conservation, this new mindset may be diffused to others upon their homecoming. Americans may not fully trust the DOD, but we trust our soldiers trained by the DOD and made aware of the need for strategic energy security by carrying out its operations. The “other 1%” of the population that comprises the military has always been revered as heroes we can trust, if not the institution that employs them. In a sense, then, the DOD’s seeking tactical and operational energy solutions will lead to strategic change by the nature of our (trusting) relationships with the warriors it shapes.

TC Moore said...

Relying on the behavior of returning service men and women to change society depends on two questionable assumptions. The first is that their number is sufficient to actually affect the system; the 2.3million American service members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan will need to change the behavior of the remaining 310 million. But even more problematic is the fact that very few of this "other 1%" will actually return with "new understanding of the strategic importance of energy." Unless things have changed dramatically since the fall of 2009, only the very few who operate at the tactical edge have any idea of the value of energy security. The rest are comfortably ensconced behind the walls of main operating bases in Afghanistan where energy is being squandered by the megawatt and water comes in disposable 1/2 liter bottles. For too many of those returning from theater, energy, food, and water are were more transparent in war than they are in CONUS. Back in the states, they at least have to drive to the gas station and face the sticker shock, in theater everything comes without a visible cost. Few of these folks are bringing back "a new openness to energy substitution and conservation."

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