By Bob Reinert/USAG-Natick Public Affairs June 24, 2011
FORT DEVENS, Mass. - Ease the logistical burden on war fighters, and they can more clearly focus on the mission.
With that goal in mind, the Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems, under the leadership of the Army’s Project Manager Force Protection, held its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Base Camp Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL) at Fort Devens on June 24. The laboratory features a pair of 150-person base camps - one set in a current configuration, the other to assess new technologies.
“What drove the need for this base camp is the need for continually doing better,” said Kevin Fahey, program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support. “The joint war fighter can more focus on the mission when we focus on making the base camp more effective and efficient.”
Instrumentation on the SIL will measure water, fuel and power usage to help increase energy efficiency and base camp commonality. In the end, Soldiers' quality of life and the ability of units to accomplish their missions are what count most.
Everything needed for a “Force Provider” 150-person camp can fit into one C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. It can be set up in theater in less than four hours.
“The main focus is to be able to continue to assess technology to really help in the effectiveness and efficiency of base camp operations,” Fahey said. “This capability that you’ll have here will allow us to rapidly assess stuff. We will measure everything.”
Service members training at Devens will stay in the SIL, providing benefits for researchers from Natick Soldier Systems Center and war fighters alike.
“This is a wonderful arrangement,” Fahey said. “It’s really a partnership between us and Fort Devens. Their goal is to have the capability to bring Soldiers in here and train them.”
Lieutenant Colonel Warren Bacote, Fort Devens garrison commander, also made note of the SIL’s dual purpose.
“As energy and water are key enablers of Army readiness, the continued proof of the Soldiers at the base camp integration lab will allow this CONUS base resource to make its mark as an innovative business practice, enhance the relevance of this installation, and provide Soldiers with real-world experiences and training conditions that realistically portray the operational environment,” Bacote said.
Energy and water efficiency remain areas of concentration for base camp development. The laboratory is currently looking at systems that reduce fuel usage and reuse shower water.
“What we’re seeing here today is going to benefit our operations in Afghanistan now,” said Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, Plans and Programs. “We owe it to our Soldiers who are there now to do this better.”
“One of the great things that this does is launches a test bed that is an opportunity for others in the Army and outside the Army to see the great things that are going on,” said Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment,” to see and touch and feel what technologies are available, and also enabling our Soldiers to train the way they fight.”
Hammack pointed out that 70 to 80 percent of resupply weight in theater consists of fuel and water.
“That’s a lot of manpower that’s not focused on the mission,” Hammack said. “We want to enable our Soldiers to focus on the mission.
“This kind of demonstration, this kind of testing and this kind of evaluation of technology in home station enables our Soldiers to be better equipped when they are deployed.”
Burke told the audience that she recently met a young Army major who ran a Stryker base camp in southern Afghanistan. The camp was using 5,500 gallons of fuel a day, but a surprising 80 percent of that went to power generators, not Stryker vehicles.
“We’ve got to change,” Burke said. “As a military, our capabilities are more and more energy dependent, so it’s taking more fuel to do what we have to do. We’ve got to move all that fuel, and it’s a target.”
Hammack said an era of budget tightening makes base camp efficiency increasingly relevant.
“If we can deploy technology that makes us much more efficient so we don’t need those resources,” said Hammack, “we’re not only demonstrating fiduciary responsibility, but we’re enhancing the mission.”