Department of Defense improves field energy use to strengthen force

28 May 2014 | Terri Moon Cronk

Energy is a critical mission enabler to the Defense Department, a DOD official told a Senate panel here last week.

Edward Thomas Morehouse Jr., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, testified May 21 at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

"If you take away one thing from my testimony today, [I] hope it's this: It's the goal of [the Defense Department] to strengthen our military capabilities by improving how we use energy in the field, particularly reducing the burdens and risks from our energy supply lines," Morehouse said.

"Using energy more wisely will enable us to fly and sail farther, to loiter or remain on station longer, and give us supply lines that are more secure, requiring less forces, fewer lives and less money to sustain," he added.

As U.S. military forces rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, energy could present a greater concern than it has before, he said. "The vast distances, increased logistical challenges and potential adversaries are likely to have more formidable capabilities to target us with more precision and at longer range, putting our supply lines at greater risk to attack," he explained.

In determining DOD's energy costs and how that funding would be used for fiscal year 2015, Morehouse told the Senate panel the department estimates using about 96 million barrels of fuel, at a cost of nearly $15 billion. DOD also will invest $1.7 billion to improve how energy is used for military operations, and about $9 billion across the Five-year Defense Plan, he said, adding that 92 percent of the investment will be used to improve energy performance of weapons and military forces, and another 7 percent will be used to diversify and securing supplies of operational energy.

"We've made a great deal of progress," he said. "With energy and energy logistics now being incorporated into major war games, and as a mandatory performance parameter in our requirements development process, ... understanding how energy affects our operations is becoming more deeply understood."

For the future of the force, DOD will continue promoting operational energy innovation and look at how global energy dynamics affect national security and shape defense missions, Morehouse told the panel.

DOD also will continue to support deployed forces with energy solutions, "from rapid fielding of new technologies to adapting war plans to incorporating energy into international partnerships," he said.

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