CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - The Army tackles challenges today requiring more innovative and efficient ways to support the mission and minimize environmental impacts. U.S. Army Central is making significant strides supporting the Army's effort to conserve money and resources.

The Army's energy goals, as defined in the January 2009 Army Energy Security Implementation Strategy, include reducing energy consumption, increasing energy efficiency, increasing use of renewable/alternative energy, assuring access to sufficient energy supplies and reducing adverse impacts to the environment.

"USARCENT is supporting the Army's energy goals by focusing on reducing energy consumption, increasing the supply of available energy [through] renewable sources and changing the command climate relative to energy consumption," said Col. Molly Harris, USARCENT Energy Efficiency Campaign representative.

Army operations span a diverse range of missions, from base infrastructure under lesser threat, to expeditionary operations and campaigns in hostile areas. Supplying energy to support these diverse missions is always a priority.

"Operational energy ultimately affects the Soldiers," said Harris. "It is about maintaining the Soldier on the battlefield, and providing the optimum amount of energy to the forward elements to increase survivability."

It is essential to provide Soldiers deployed to hot and austere environments energy for air-conditioned shelters, food services and water supply, to name a few. USARCENT is taking action in order to meet the Army's energy and budgetary demands.

"USARCENT has established the Operational Energy Working Group to spearhead the energy awareness campaign," explained Harris. "Section representatives are appointed to inform, advise, train and assist as the military transforms into more flexible, efficient and sustainable force."

The OEWG has an aggressive awareness campaign.

"In an effort to change the energy culture, the group is developing training that empowers Soldiers to make energy informed decisions," said Harris. "At Camp Buehring, Kuwait, the group is demonstrating energy conservation technologies like solar shading and Cool Cam Covers."

Soldiers assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, set up Solar Shade Systems over two structures July 9 and 10 at Camp Buehring. Currently the shades are being monitored to test the overall energy and cost effectiveness.

"Kilowatt meters were placed within the air conditioning units of covered and uncovered tents to monitor and collect the amount of energy being used to cool the structure," said David Annas, Saab Barracuda engineering manager, who trained the Soldiers how to install the system.

"The solar shade solution is an ultra-lightweight camouflage net system used to save operational energy by reducing fuel cost," said Annas. "We have found that by putting it over structures it can reduce the solar loading by 85 percent, which studies have shown can typically reduce the temperature of the shelter by at least 15 degrees and have about a 22 percent fuel savings. On a small 150-man [forward operating base], that is a savings of approximately 100 gallons per day."

Camp Buehring is also the home of the Net Zero Technology Test Site and the Kuwait Energy Efficiency Project, said Harris.

KEEP is an operational energy project focused on rapidly leveraging proven technologies and best practices to significantly improve energy efficiency with shelters and microgrids to reduce fuel consumption within Camp Buehring, reducing operational energy requirements and fuel requirements by 30 percent.

"New technologies and energy efficient solutions make it easier to sustain and protect our forces in harsh environments," said Harris. "These solutions lighten the individual Soldier's load, reduce the need for dangerous resupply convoys, and increase the supply of available energy - making our Soldiers more combat effective."

The Army continues to look for ways to reduce environmental impacts and ensure the individual readiness and resiliency of our Soldiers.

"There are wind and solar powered light carts being tested for use on Camp Arifjan to see how they hold up in the extreme heat," said Harris. "New technology, such as shower-water reuse systems, will be employed at Camp Buehring as part of the Net Zero and KEEP programs."

"The Army's newest energy-efficient generators, power distribution equipment and improved environmental control units, are being retrograded from Afghanistan for use in Jordan and Kuwait," she continued. "Other plans include conversion of diesel-fired light carts to solar, and use of solar and/or wind energy for water heating and other power generation needs."

Many systems are already in place, while education and awareness of energy consumption is now one of USARCENT's major focuses. As the Army makes great strides toward energy efficiency among garrison and operational bases, they will rely heavily on the participation and cooperation of Soldiers, DOD civilians and Family members who work and live on post.

"Making energy conscious decisions is everyone's responsibility," said Harris. "Our military has a proud history of setting and enforcing the highest standards. Once Soldiers are informed and educated about the importance of energy efficiencies and how this relates to conducting missions and combat effectiveness, we are confident that Soldiers will strive to be innovative and do the right thing even when no one is watching."

"The desired end state is an energy informed culture in which we create an internal environment of energy accountability and discipline; change the way each Soldier, Army civilian and family member views, uses and thinks about energy and refocus our culture from energy consumers to energy stewards," said Harris. "All results are intended to ensure the Army can secure access to mission essential energy at a price it can afford."

According to USARCENT, it consumed 583,000 barrels of fuel in Kuwait and Qatar last year through everyday operations such as transportation and powering equipment and structures, resulting in an overall cost of approximately $60.6 million. By incorporating energy efficient technologies, renewable energy sources, awareness campaigns and improved power distribution networks, they can drastically reduce the amount of fuel consumed.

"There are several energy efficient and conservation actions that can be done daily. Taking five-minute showers, recycling, adjusting thermostats, and turning off extra lights are just a few methods that help save energy for the war fighter," said Harris. "Soldiers are developing their own energy-saving methods like reusing water boxes as recycling bins in their rooms."

USARCENT believes conservation is the most easily achievable goal. By doing this, a noticeable impact can be made on the overall fuel and water usage by 20 percent, which equates to a savings of approximately $12 million a year.

"Taking time to discuss energy issues with your peers is also a good way to help spread the news about operational energy," said Harris. "The key is to educate and reinforce energy conservation practices, so the Soldier understands the why."

By practicing smart and decisive decisions, everybody can make a serious impact on the overall decrease of resources, said Harris.