In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on all Americans to do their part in redefining our infrastructure and encouraging Congress to follow the military’s example.
“At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, [the Armed Forces] exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.”
The Department of Defense took one of the hardest hits when the budget cuts were announced last year. Over the next 10 years, the DoD will be required to drastically reduce spending, forcing the services to bury their respective budget perspectives and work as a team to find at least $450 billion in savings through 2021.
Since the announcement, there has been plenty of buzz about where this money will come from – personnel cuts, force structure and program reductions. But, according to the President, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.
Did you know? The DoD is the nation’s largest energy user.
In recent years, the DoD has launched several initiatives to improve energy efficiency and is shifting to renewable energy to meet operational and installation needs.
The Corps established the Expeditionary Energy Office to reduce energy consumption, with the goal of increasing combat effectiveness by reducing the need for liquid fossil fuel 50 percent by 2025.
The Office of Naval Research, in conjunction with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, developed the Experimental Forward Operating Base, or ExFOB, which identifies and evaluates energy efficient capabilities that can reduce risks to Marines and increase our combat effectiveness.
In less than a year, technologies demonstrated at the first ExFOB were deployed to combat with promising results:
• Two patrol bases operated entirely on renewable energy
• 90 percent reduction in fuel required at a third base
• Three-week foot patrol executed without battery resupply, reducing load on Marines by 700 lbs.
The price of addiction to liquid fuel in war can be measured in many ways: number of convoys at risk on the road, IED incidents, patrols diverted for force protection, operations delayed waiting for resupply, weight and cube exceeding air and sealift, and dollars per barrel .
Ultimately, it must be measured in lives risked—and lost . During a three-month period early in 2010, six Marines were wounded hauling fuel and water to bases in Afghanistan during just 299 convoys . That is one Marine wounded for every 50 convoys.
As the Marine Corps draws down from Afghanistan, energy efficiency will be a critical enabler for our future missions. By reducing the need for fuel, expeditionary forces will minimize their exposure to the enemy, increase range and flexibility as a highly self- sufficient force, and operate in places where others more dependent on logistics cannot.
More information on the Corps Expeditionary Energy efforts:
View more ways the Corps is going green: