Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Village Stability Energy: Not What I Thought I Was Getting

Yesterday's post: Thanks to Paul Roege for the tip of the day.  Big day for Army Energy at the annual Association of the U.S. Army exposition at the DC convention center today. You will have to register if you have not done so previously, so plan for a little extra time.  Information on the rest of the schedule is HERE.   If you can make it down, the schedule for today is as follows:

Tuesday, 23 Oct 

1500-1530 Village Stability Energy to the Edge Forum at Army Booth, REF, 1500-1530, Exhibit Hall B, # 1775

The 1500 event is of interest for all those who understand that local economic development and education are the keys to success in peace keeping operations.   I personally saw their effectiveness in Kosovo and when Joe Sartiano was running the Power Surety Task Force for the REF in 2008, he attempted to launch "Village Power" but got no where with the leadership then in charge.  Finally, the times have caught up with the idea.  Lights at night for study and power for start up industries create economic opportunities that can counter the propaganda of terror. 


Unfortunately,the REF briefing was not about village power.  It was about setting up a FOB to provide village stability (security) in austere conditions, not providing power to villages.   The briefing, provided by a very earnest Major, was a rehash of FOB energy problems that were first identified in 2006 by Joe Amadee at FOB Lemonier in the Horn of Africa. Read this post from 2009 for perspective.  Too many generators that are not optimized providing energy to energy inefficient structures and systems.  The only difference now is that the REF is providing an "Operational Energy Specialist" to selected outposts.  Don't get excited; there are only 8 of them.

Why is the REF still doing this after six years?  Why hasn't the acquisition system stepped up to provide the Requirements necessary to spark the solutions? The same contractors are milking the same system instead of finding ways to make the acquisition system work.  I am often accused of being critical (overly?) of DOD efforts in operational energy. Perhaps I am, but I hate to see money spent on doing the same thing over and over again.  Go back and read the reports we created for the Army  in 2006, 2007 and 2008.  Read the reports written for the USMC in 2009 and the USAF in 2010.  It is the same stuff.  Either get it into the acquisition system and fix the problems or stop wasting my tax payers dollars.    Dan Nolan.

1 comment:

S. Burke said...

Dan -- since you called me out... You have it all wrong about this particular REF effort. They're doing just what they should be doing. They are working with several USA program managers (PM-Mobile Electric Power is the ringleader, along with PM-Soldier, PM-Force Sustainment Systems, and others) on a systematic effort to improve operational energy for dozens of USFOR-A, ISAF, and VSP locations. My understanding is that the efforts have been undertaken in cooperation with a specific brigade commander, rather than on an ad hoc basis, & are focused on US and partner forces. This group fielded energy-improved equipment in pre-deployment training & now is going out to the BCT's downrange locations, assessing the power needs and current laydown, repairing and replacing and adding capability, and then providing ongoing support. The Brigade energy advisors are the focal point for a sustained effort. There's always a risk of shoot-and-move with rapid fielding efforts -- inadquate consideration of long-term or local viability, technologically exquisite solutions instead of the basics... But not this team -- they're really doing it right. If your beef is that they are not doing enough to support the economic development of Afghanistan, I would say that's not their primary mission in this case (though their efforts do directly benefit Afghan troops).