Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Operational Energy (OE) Shifts Gears: Back to Acq

After somewhat of a hiatus, I am returning to my roots with some observations on current events in Operational Energy.  This is prompted by a recent conference and two upcoming ones.  On to the state of play. Upcoming conferences will be discussed in next post. 

A few of weeks ago, I attended the Admiral Moorer Military Energy Security Forum at the National Defense University.  After nearly a three year break, Dr. Richard Andres revived this excellent gathering that draws a who’s who in DOD energy.  This year’s edition was strong on operational energy with all the notables in the field in attendance.   NDU, keep ‘em coming! Official report is here.

Sharon Burke, ASD, Operational Energy Plans and Programs, began the day with an excellent lay down of the goings on in OE.  She began with the development of the OE Strategy, about which I have previously been unenthusiastic. When it was published in June of 2011, I felt that it was not directive enough to compel the Services to act.  Those directives were promised in the Implementation Plan.

When that document was published in March of 2012, I again commented on the lack of direction to the Services to take action; it appeared to be all about measuring.  I did identify that the tone in operational energy was changing; there was no longer a sense of critical urgency.  There was a sense of appropriate urgency. 

This was driven home at the Forum by COL Brutus Charrette when he was questioned by industry as to why the Gov’t wasn’t getting more done, quickly. Brutus put it in perspective.  The end of combat operations in Iraq and the pending drawdown in Afghanistan has eroded the sense of urgency for operational energy.  Or rather, an appropriate sense of urgency has evolved.  It is difficult to justify the Urgent Operational Needs Statements such as that used by LTG(R) Zilmer to request hybrid electric power generation in 2006.  Zilmer spoke about that experience to great effect.

OE is entering phase II of its long term journey to the mainstream.  When DOD was engaged in the heat of battle, rapid equipping (not acquisition) was used to rush new technology into the field.   Counter sniper and C-IED, MRAPs, foamed tents and portable solar units were deployed in small quantities and were handed from unit to unit during replacement in place.  This phase ended with the publication of the OESIP.  This document shifted gears to the more traditional acquisition model:  gather data, state the Requirements (DOTLMSP), R&D the solutions, and deploy with new equipment training teams, as appropriate. While industry howled for opportunities, DOD is attempting to set the conditions for long term success. COL Paul Roege laid out the Army’s approach in his presentation on “Energy Informed Operations”. 

Burke’s office has been working behind the scenes to create those conditions for success.    The OESIP was designed to get the COCOMs and Services to examine their own practices and identify capabilities gaps.  Organizationally, OE positions have been showing up beyond the Services in places like AFOR, CENTCOM, PACOM, AFRICOM and NORTHCOM.  Plan, organize, staff.  The Services’ introspection has resulted in efforts to codify the capabilities gaps and generate requirements within the formal acquisition process.  The wheel grinds slowly, but exceedingly fine.

The Services still need to address the vulnerability of operational energy based upon the lessons learned from the last ten years.  The COCOMs have the people they need to ID the gaps; the concept development process is moving forward slowly, and DOD seed money has been spread around to encourage the R&D.  There will be technologies that are designed for Service-wide deployment as we have always done. There will be technologies that will be deployed based on climatic conditions (think Mickey Mouse boots).  All of these fit the traditional acquisition process that the Services know and, sort of, love.

One area that is still facing resistance is the concept of the Fully Burdened Cost of Energy (FBCE). Although the Defense Acquisition Guidebook now has a detailed explanation of the Life Cycle Cost/Total Ownership Costs and the role of energy in those costs, the Services do not appear to be convinced.  The Army’s Logistic Innovation Agency is still developing their concept and has a robust definition.  FBCE was to be used to meet the congressionally mandated requirement to consider the impact of energy in the acquisition process.  According to the uniformed members of one panel, the Air Force is opting out and the Marines are not convinced. 

The argument appears to be that cost, performance and schedule are the drivers in the acquisition world and efficiency does not rank high enough to warrant consideration.  I may have misunderstood the discussion. So I went and asked the expert, ESG’s Steve Siegel:
I fully agree with (the) point that operational energy decisions should be based on contributions to combat and mission effectiveness – that is the basis for the fully burdened cost of energy (FBCE).   For example, in the Army’s Fully Burdened Cost Tool (formerly Sustain the Mission Project), the FBCE includes costs (and benefits in parentheses) in terms of:  fuel resupply convoy casualties (avoided), fuel resupply convoy soldier threat exposure (hours avoided), fuel consumption (gallons saved), fuel supply truck miles (freed up for other missions), aviation fuel transport hours (freed up for other missions), convoy protection gun truck miles (freed up for other missions), convoy protection aviation system hours (freed up for other missions), and dollars (avoided) --- 7 of the 8 FBCE factors indicate operational and logistical impacts, and 1 reflects economic impacts.  That is, the FBCE shows the operational, logistical and economic value added - costs and benefits - of reducing fuel demand and reducing vulnerable fuel resupply convoys. These FBCE factors, in addition to traditional operational energy factors such as system range and speed, enable decision makers to conduct tradeoffs and better see the full value added of operational energy choices.  The FBCE tool has been and is currently used at over 25 Army agencies and offices in support of operational energy analysis and decision-making for missions ranging from research and development to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Of course there is much to do here, and work is underway to further tie mission and combat effectiveness and the FBCE. 
All in all, an excellent conference that put much of operational energy into perspective.  These NDU events have always been worth the effort and I hope we will not have another hiatus.  Next post will focus on the emerging “Flock of Eagles” who are leading the charge in OE for the Army.  Dan Nolan


Andy Bochman said...

What is USAF, by far the biggest user of operational energy, using to justify opting out of FBCE processes?

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