By Melissa Buckley, GUIDON staffAugust 29, 2011
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo., Aug. 29, 2011 -- Energy is critical to the Army's mission at home and overseas, according to Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and the environment. Hammack got a first-hand look at the energy saving technologies and the hands-on training available at Fort Leonard Wood, Aug. 25.
"Without energy we stand still and silent, and we can't do what the nation expects out of us," Hammack said. "I have policy and oversight responsibilities for all Army installations, whether they are permanent installations or contingency bases. I try to get out to as many of them as I can, to understand what their mission is."
"I came to Fort Leonard Wood to see what is going here -- what kind of activities they are engaged in, and there is a specific focus on energy since the Engineer School is here and Prime Power is here -- how they are training people to make better use of energy in the future," she said.
Energy and water security are both areas that Fort Leonard Wood is focusing on.
"Our focus is to be Net Zero. This (post) has a target of being Net Zero by 2030," Hammack said. "We want to design installations and bases to operate on the same amount of energy that they are able to generate on site -- generate from alternative resources. We also did some talking about Nt Zero water. We don't want to use more water than we are injecting into the local aquifers, so that we don't drain them."
In the event of a natural or man-made disaster Hammack said becoming Net Zero will allow Fort Leonard Wood to be able to sustain itself in case outside sources are not accessible.
"Energy security really is the ability for us to operate should everything outside of our boundaries go dark. Right now we have miles of vulnerable electricity girds. They are vulnerable to acts of nature and acts of man. If there is something that goes on off of the installation we still need to be able to function. Energy security is us being able to generate energy on base should we not have supply lines, which leads us toward alternate energy sources," Hammack said.
During this visit, Hammack said what she was primarily focused on at Fort Leonard Wood is how to train and teach the next generation of Soldiers.
"Operational energy is key, because as energy costs go up -- we all see it in our gas tanks -- it also increases the fuel that we use in the Army. Not only is it operationally necessary for us to reduce our energy, but it is fiscally prudent because we are seeing budgets tighten," Hammack said. "The more appropriately we steward the available resources and available funds we have, the better able we will be able to do the primary mission of the Army which is to serve and protect this nation."
While on Fort Leonard Wood Col. Courtney Paul, director of the Capability Development and Integration Directorate at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, guided Hammack through a Forward Operating Base, or FOB, that is using alternate energy sources such as solar and wind.
"We are doing this because we are very interested in exploring technologies that help us save energy in a deployed environment. This is a FOB that we use for training that we have placed some energy experiments on. We are creating more sustainable and self-sufficient Forward Operating Bases," Paul said. "We would like to do something more large scale, so we brought her to this site to help her visualize what we are working on here."
The FOB on post has a specific goal of energy storage.
"One of the challenges with alternative energy, especially with solar and wind is they are intermittent resources. There is no sun shining at night and the wind is not blowing constantly all the time, so there needs to be some sort of storage mechanism so that you can use energy when those resources aren't available," Hammack said. "They had several different storage technologies out there that they are working with, which is certainly a great application that we need to continue to expand."
The FOB is also designed for a variety of energy saving shelters.
"We are looking at shelters that are using less energy for lighting, heating and cooling. So, we will be working on various insulating technologies and different types of structures out there," Hammack said.
Hammack said she was pleased that the FOB scenario would take Soldiers from textbooks to hands-on education.
"It is a training tool -- we want our Soldiers to train the way they will deploy, to train the way they will fight. That is what our focus is on a training base like this," Hammack said. "They are teaching in a hands-on format. I'm a mechanical engineer so when I went to engineering school we learned a lot from books. Here the focus of the training is hands on, with some academic training as well."
Another example of hands-on learning Hammack visited on post was the Prime Power School, which has many facets, one of which is training Soldiers how to operate large generators.
"The prime focus is to get them working on a motor, working on an engine, working on the controls, so that when they deploy or they run into problems in theater they will have seen it before and it won't be new or uncomfortable for them," Hammack said.
In addition to being better for the environment and the Army's bottom line, Hammack said the technology being implemented on Fort Leonard Wood will save lives.
"Right now, one in every 46 convoys has a casualty, whether that is a civilian, contractor or military. If we are able to take convoys off the road then that's a reduction of casualties, so that is more Soldiers we can put into the fight," Hammack said. "We've got a lot of initiatives on using efficient generation both in our installations and in theater, because in theater if we have better generators and better electrical distribution systems, we use less fuel -- that means fewer convoys on the road."
Hammack said most convoys transport fuel and water.
Paul believes that is exactly why the alternative energy testing at the FOB on post is vital.
"We want to save energy and better use water. It's all about getting the transportation off the road," Paul said.
During her visit, Hammack said she was also impressed with Fort Leonard Wood's interconnection with surrounding communities.
"One of the things I was pleased to hear about was the involvement of the local communities on this (post). This is a military friendly environment. I look forward to continuing that relationship," Hammack said.