Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway along with the honorable Raymond E. Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, hosted and headlined a one-day Energy Summit at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Washington, August 13.
The topics discussed ranged from cutting back on inefficient energy use on the battlefield, operating in an expeditionary environment, energy challenges at installations and attempts to attain self sufficiency and sustainability.
“We have to pay more attention to this. We have to take this seriously,” Mabus said. “This is something we need to do – this is something we need to do now.”
The summit was open to the public and titled “Lightening the Load – Reducing the Footprint in the Expeditionary Environment – A National Security Imperative for Success.”
The Marine Corps led summit opened with a brief welcome by Maj. Gen. Edward G. Usher III, deputy commandant, installations and logistics. Then Conway spoke to the crowd for a half hour outlining the Corps’ reasons and goals for “going green.”
“I’m particularly worried about battlefield energy efficiency,” Conway said. “We will have a task force on the ground in Afghanistan within a month to study ways to improve energy efficiency in a deployed area.”
The purpose behind the summit was to raise awareness and understanding of what the Marine Corps is doing to lessen energy consumption and dependence on fossil fuels and inform people what the Corps’ is experimenting with, and what the greatest challenges will be.
When talking about the energy efficiency in a combat zone, Conway made it clear: he wants the Marines to take the lead.
“It’s my belief that the Marine Corps is the subject matter experts when it comes to being an expeditionary force,” Conway said. “We need to get this right – we have to lead and teach the Army, Air Force and the Navy.”
Conway highlighted one goal the Corps has set its sights on.
“The Marine Corps is doing a two-tier approach,” Conway said. “We talk about net zero – wanting our installations to produce as much energy as we use.”
Conway said two Marine Corps installations, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, already have programs in place to help reduce the use of energy while producing their own through solar power and obtain “net zero” status.
Mabus said it’s important for the military not to depend on oil, and the military spends too much time using oil to get oil.
“Only 10 percent of our energy is used by combat vehicles,” Mabus said. “A good portion of the other 90 percent is used is to get the combat vehicles their supplies. We simply have to have a better source of energy for our military than what we have today. We must move away from oil.”
Conway addressed some short term goals the Corps has regarding energy conservation.
“We want to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and (energy spent on transporting) water by 60 percent by 2015,” Conway said. “We would also like to increase by 25 percent the reusable energy sources we use.”
Mabus gave a few examples of what the individual Marine can do to lower the amount of energy they use.
“Pay attention to the little things, like how much you heat or cool the place you’re living in,” said Mabus. “Understand and push for Marines to understand the importance of this. I want the Department of the Navy to not only lead the Department of Defense but the United States in energy reduction.”
Conway finished his speech by saying, “We will be more energy efficient. We have to be.”