Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chartered Course for DOD OE Data: DOEB Above Board

(Not intended to equate DOEB Charter
with Magna Carta) 

Good news for those of you who have been waiting with bated breath.  The Defense Operational Energy Board has officially approved its own charter.  On March 22, 2012, at what I can only assume was an adequately solemn signing ceremony, Lieutenant General Brooks L. Bash, J-4 and Ms. Sharon E. Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Policy, placed their signature on a four page document detailing the DOEB's authority, scope, functions and organization.  The Board has permanent members from the Service Secretaries’ and Chiefs' of Staff office, as well as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, ass’t SecDef for Logistics and Materiel Readiness and DoD General Counsel.  Counting the two co-chairs, that is a total of eleven folks around the table.  The Charter specifies that representatives must be in the grade of O9 (LTG) or SES equivalent.  The Co-Chairs can waive the grade requirement in case a mere Brigadier show up.

The scope of duties is very broad, accept where it might “infringe on existing statutory or regulatory authorizes” at which point the scope of its duties, like a point, becomes infinitely small.  They will have influence over anything that is not Title X.  As long as they don’t impact the Services responsibilities to recruit, organize, man, equip, train, sustain, mobilize, and deploy units then they should be good to go. The language used states: 

The Board operates to advise the co-chairs, ASD(OEPP) and the Joint Staff Director of Logistics (DJ4), within their statutory authorities. The ASD(OEPP) oversees the policies, plans, and programs needed to implement the goals of the Operational Energy Strategy. The Joint Staff is responsible for joint planning, doctrine, requirements, and oversight of Combatant Command activities.
 The Board shall not infringe on existing statutory or regulatory authorities, and shall inform and advise established processes, including the JCIDS and JROC; Defense Acquisition System; the
Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) cycle; and other existing governanceand oversight processes.

One of the first activities of the Board, according to the Operational Energy Strategy Implementation Plan, will be to receive reports from the Services to establish an operational energy baseline.  The specific requirement reads:

“the Military Departments and Defense agencies will report to the Defense Operational Energy Board (2nd Quarter FY 2012) an operational energy baseline, using all available data on actual energy consumption in support of military operations in FY 2011 and projected consumption in FY 2012 – FY 2017”

As the Vice President likes to say, “This is a big freaking deal” (not actual quote).  Since 2006 when I first started mucking about in this field, the question has always been, what is ground truth in regard to OE?  None of the metrics we wanted were being reported routinely through normal logistics channels.  No one was measuring the fuel consumption by point generators on unimproved work spaces, housing a massive IT processing center.  The fully burdened cost for a gallon of fuel was the stuff of legend and only fools talked about fuel convoys (convoys carry EVERYTHING, not just fuel).  Finally, there is the potential to establish the required database and then design metrics for continuing to monitor the data.  The mere act of observation will effect the data, but, probably, only positively.  So where does the data go?  Who will be the keeper?

In an era of dwindling budgets, there will not be a lot of people volunteering to take on this mission.   The Board has the authority to require the data’s collection but will have to pay for its housing and maintenance.   Further, the data gathered from Iraq and Afghanistan will be applicable to operations in…..Iraq and Afghanistan.   It will be better than much of the engineering data populating models and war-game, but one must be careful on how to apply the data to situations in which the same conditions do not obtain.  This will be a challenge for the Board, but certainly a step in the direction.  Dan Nolan

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