WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 24, 2012) -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said he believes the Army has drifted away from educating Soldiers about energy conservation.

Chandler made a guest appearance Tuesday at the "Enhancing Mission Effectiveness Through Power and Energy Advancements" panel at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting.

Chandler said he believes conservation is of strategic importance to the nation, and one person can make a difference that can change the country.

"That's our challenge," he said. "That's my challenge as sergeant major of the Army, is to make our Soldiers understand that turning the tactical vehicle off in the motor pool is actually okay, and that that pint of fuel they'd save magnified by however many tactical vehicles we've got is a huge, huge, huge economic impact to the Army."

The panel discussed advancements in alternative energy sources, resource management and how operational energy feeds into combat power and mission effectiveness.

"The success of Army missions and the security of our Soldiers is dependent on reliable access to energy and to water," said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack. Because of this dependence, and the potential threats to that dependence in theater, the Army is aggressively perusing energy alternatives and resource management strategies.

"We committed to deploy one gigawatt, 1,000 megawatts, of renewable energy by 2025. That is solar, geothermal, wind, or biomass on Army installations," Hammack said. "One gigawatt of renewable energy is enough power to power 250,000 homes."

Through the Net Zero Initiative and the energy initiatives task force, the Army is seeking ways to reduce the total installation energy consumption and generate renewable energy.

Net Zero is an initiative to have installations consume only as much water or energy as they can produce and to eliminate solid waste, she explained.

"Our focus on energy security is all about implementing an energy culture," said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, the Army's assistant chief of staff for Installation Management and IMCOM commander. "The key is really executing our Net Zero strategy, ensuring installations efficiently manage our energy and our water resources and (reduce solid waste)."

"We have to change 'energy on demand' and start using business processes," he added. "We must be more efficient. Energy is an issue for today's leaders, not to be put off to the future."

"As we become a more expeditionary Army, we've got to get smarter in our use of energy at the point, at the edge," Maj. Michael Tucker, assistant deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, agreed. "You've got to make Soldiers and commanders understand that they don't have a 10-inch diameter power cable following them where ever they go."

The four major focus areas of energy management are the Soldier, basing, or outfitting installations with energy conservation tools, vehicles and aircraft, Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, deputy chief of staff for the G-4 explained.

Mason said the Army is focused on the squad level for the Soldier, and providing them with better capabilities: "We're giving them solar blankets, rechargeable batteries, and a way to recharge them."

The Army is also transforming its vehicles and aircraft with updated systems maximized for energy conservation.

"Yes, to put a lot of energy efficiency into a vehicle is very expensive, and it costs money upfront, and it costs the unit price of each vehicle or each system we buy to be higher, but in the long run, in the tail, it saves you money. Less fuel, less fuel trucks, less maintenance units fixing fuel trucks -- you can just see the second, third and fourth order of effects," Mason said.

He hopes, like Chandler, to get an energy-informed culture at the noncommissioned officer level. With the noncommissioned officers leading the way, junior Soldiers will be more likely to participate in conservation and change the culture from the bottom up.