ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, July 20, 2011) -- The second day of the first joint Army - Air Force Energy Forum became standing room only as they waited for leaders from the military and government to enter.
Sen. John W. Warner, former Secretary of the Navy and five-term senator from Virginia, again joined the audience to hear the vice chiefs of staff of the Army and Air Force give an update on their services' energy efforts from the warfighter's perspective.
"Without energy, the Army stands still and silent," said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, adding that the Army accounts for 21 percent of DoD's fuel and power consumption.
"Energy powers our tanks, aircraft and battle formations, allows for communication of voice and data directly to Soldiers, and enables our Army to deploy and perform anywhere in the world to accomplish our mission across the full spectrum of operations," he said.
The demand for energy has increased significantly over the past decade, he said. And it continues to grow as the Army modernizes equipment and develops more information communications technology, or ICT systems.
"The challenge we face is how to ensure access to energy that is operational, necessary, and mission critical while remaining fiscally responsible stewards of the taxpayers' dollars.
"One thing we know for sure. Success will require a collaborative, team effort. And that is why this forum, and forums like it, are so incredibly important," Chiarelli said.
Forum discussions Wednesday continued to look to the future of energy as it relates to operational energy, advances in technology, best practices and efficiencies, and potential partnering opportunities, during sessions that continued until 3:30 p.m., following the panel discussion.
"In order to help frame the dialogue, I'd like to take a few minutes to address the Army's operational energy priority," Chiarelli said. "Army energy and sustainability initiatives can be broken down into three areas: Soldier power, vehicle power, and basing power."
Operational energy, he said, is a key enabler across all three. It is the energy and associated systems information and processes required to train, move and sustain the force and systems for military operations.
"As we move to field more operational energy, we've got to ensure we do it in concert with the warfighter. If systems are designed in a way that the warfighter is not brought in early on, I think we're going to have serious problems," Chiarelli said.
Operational energy provides greater mission effectiveness in a number of ways, he said. It lightens the Soldier's load, provides alternative energy sources at the tactical level, reduces dependency on vulnerable resupply operations, and increases stamina and endurance for decentralized operations.
"So how do we effectively and efficiently achieve our operational energy goals? The answer is addressed at length during this two-day forum," he said. "Namely, we must drive efficiency across the enterprise, and not solely within the department or among the military services, but also in partnership with all of you here today, including those representing industry and other government agencies and organizations."
"Together, we must continue to build resilience through renewable and alternative energy sources, strategy and legislation, and policy adjustments. The Army team as a whole will ensure that benefits and efficiencies, gained through our shared focus on operational energy, will contribute to achieving our strategic energy-security goals," Chiarelli said.
Meanwhile, the Army is currently engaging in studies and developing plans designed to help reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency, and increase the use of renewable energy.
Projects include ground-source heat pumps, geothermal test wells, solar water heating and solar walls.
Efforts also include research and development of energy from fuel cells, wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. In concert with these and other efforts to improve energy efficiency on installations, the Army remains focused on further improving efficiencies in theater.
"We're also planning additional work in areas such as more efficient generators and power distribution. In fact, the Army has been working on the development of necessary hardware, software and controls to perform field-scale, microgrid implementation for some time now," Chiarelli said.
Microgrids are small, on-site generators, suitable for the integration of renewable energy systems like rooftop solar panels, waste heat generators and fuel cells.
"We're also on tract to field a new family of tactical generators starting in 2012. These generators, the advanced medium mobile power sources, use an average of 20 percent less fuel than the models currently employed in theater," he said.
Across the board, in the science and technology area, the Army, he said, is on the cusp of exciting developments in the power and energy sector.
"We are excited, just last month, to have cut the ribbon on a new base camp Systems Integration Laboratory at Fort Devens, Mass. The laboratory features a pair of 150-person base camps, one set in current configuration, the other to assess new technologies. In fact, the laboratory is currently looking at systems that reduce fuel usage and reuse shower water," Chiarelli said.
According to a June 24, 2011 article, instrumentation on the systems Integration Lab will measure water, fuel and power usage to help increase energy efficiency and base camp commonality. In fact, everything needed for a “Force Provider” 150-person camp can fit into one C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and be set up in theater in less than four hours.
"We must pursue opportunities in forums like this one that promote and foster partnerships between the military, industry, services and others. With a goal to find cost savings and gain efficiencies thereby further improving our ability to meet operational requirements today and in the days ahead," Chiarelli said.
Following the panel on Military Leadership Perspective on Operational Energy, moderated by Maj. Gen. Al Aycock, Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado gave the congressional perspective.
Udall co-authored a bill aimed at helping the military reduce its reliance on fossil fuel, and he also put Colorado at the forefront of sustainable energy development.
In a prepared speech recorded earlier in Kabul, Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, thanked everyone for their continued support.