Reduce Energy Use: A New Paradigm - Energy for the Warfighter


Reduce Energy Use: A New Paradigm - Energy for the Warfighter

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 - 15:15
Monday, July 25, 2011 - 15:12
In recent months, the Department of Defense (DoD) has developed an Operational Energy Strategy designed to provide a roadmap for its energy initiatives in the future. The strategy includes three foundational principles that it notes will be major factors for future military operations to ensure our forces have the energy resources required to face twenty-first century challenges.

The DoD is the greatest consumer of energy resources across the Federal Government. As captured in this figure from a recent Wall Street Journal article, the DoD consumes some 93 percent of energy used at the Federal level.  The Department’s energy portfolio includes both the energy used at military installations within the United States and overseas, as well as the energy used by military forces in execution of their operational responsibilities – such as fuel requirements needed to support the DoD’s massive arsenal of highly fuel dependent ships, ground vehicles (tanks, MRAPs, HUMVEEs, etc.) and airplanes.

Two Impacts of Fuel Consumption at DoD

  1. High Cost: First, it costs significant amounts of money to acquire, manage, transport, protect, and consume fuel in this quantity. For example, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the DoD spent roughly 1.2 percent of its budget on fuel in Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 with this figure rising to some 3.0 percent of the budget by FY 2008. During this same period, fuel prices increased approximately 500 percent. Furthermore, DoD’s fuel calculations typically do not account for the full cost of fuel which includes the cost of its transportation in vehicles such as air tankers, ships and trucks in addition to the cost of security forces required for its protection along the supply route (Gansler 2011). One Defense Science Board Study estimated this “fully burdened” cost of fuel could range anywhere between $10.00 and nearly $400.00 per gallon depending on the delivery method and distance covered. 
  2. Threatens DoD’s Energy Security: A second impact of fuel consumption at the DoD is that the current level of dependence greatly threatens the Department’s “energy security.”  For the DoD, energy security is defined as having “assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet operational needs.  This risk inhibits the ability for warfighters to move freely and thus constrains military planners.  For example, some 80 percent of the ground supply chain movements for current U.S. military operations in Afghanistan are for the purposes of moving fuel—a tremendous logistical burden and major vulnerability for attack.

Operational Energy Strategy is the Way Ahead

In recent months, the DoD has developed an Operational Energy Strategy designed to provide a roadmap for its energy initiatives of the future. The strategy includes three foundational principles that will guide future planning efforts to ensure our forces have the energy resources required to face twenty-first century challenges. These three principles include:

  • Principle 1 - More Fight, Less Fuel: The DoD will significantly reduce the demand for energy required to support America’s military operations.
  • Principle 2 - More Options, Less Risk: Oil dependence is a major risk to the warfighter, thus, the DoD will expand and secure the supply of energy being delivered to America’s military beyond petroleum by diversifying the sources of the DoD’s energy supplies and types of energy it requires.
  • Principle 3 - More Capability, Less Cost: The DoD will seek to build energy security into the future force by tying operational energy considerations directly to force planning and development requirements.

These three principles are a step in the right direction as the DoD seeks to improve energy efficiency across the organization, but it is vitally important that these high level strategic imperatives permeate throughout the chain of command for real change to occur.  More specifically, leadership must consider several different elements across the organization to achieve change—a subject to be covered in the following blog entry on organizational change.

A first step toward implementing this change can be found in action taken by General Petraeus, Commander U.S. Forces Afghanistan and the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  General Petraeus recently sought to implement the DoD’s Operational Energy Strategy in his 7 June 2011 Memorandum on Supporting the Mission with Operational Energy.  In this memo, General Petraeus directed all Commanders for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan to take ownership of unit energy demand—a major stride toward establishing accountability for operational energy consumption throughout the ranks. 

This step will be the first of many to follow which seek to reduce energy consumption across all levels of the DoD (military, civilian, and contractor).  The DoD has laid the proper foundation through its Operational Energy Strategy for achieving a major reduction in energy consumption and increased energy security.  Given the proper mix of leadership and accountability for its implementation, both the warfighter and the taxpayer will benefit significantly.

Coming Up Next:

Join us tomorrow as we transition our energy strategy discussion to operational levers and enablers.

Let Us Hear From You:

How is your organization taking the necessary steps to improve energy efficiency? Please share your comments.


Tim Fain Bio Tim Fain is an Associate Partner and Service Area Leader within IBM’s Global Business Services Public Sector. Mr. Fain has more than 30 years of technical, managerial, and consulting experience. Specifically his experience involves developing organizational, economic development and environmental and energy sustainability strategies; improving business models and processes; and helping organizations develop transformation roadmaps. He uses his extensive knowledge of Federal regulatory and budgetary processes, e-Government principles and methodologies, and strategic planning to help public sector clients address policy, service, and transformational challenges.

Prior to joining IBM, Tim spent eight years at the Office of Management and Budget where he worked on a broad range of Federal government information technology and policy issues. A former US Navy Submarine Officer, Tim holds a BS in Metallurgical Engineering, a MA in National Security Studies, and a MPP in International Trade and Finance.

Tim Fain (




Michael J ArendtMichael J. Arendt Jr is a Senior Consultant at IBM, currently providing consulting support to the United States Navy. Mr. Arendt’s Navy consulting role includes technical and business research and analysis for implementation of Naval Open Architecture principles throughout the Naval Enterprise. These efforts have recently been expanded to support the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD AT&L) in furtherance of his Better Buying Power initiative of 14 September 2010. Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Arendt served as a faculty research assistant at the University of Maryland’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise (CPPPE) contributing to numerous research studies on topics related to key areas of defense acquisition and logistics. .

Mr. Arendt is a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, School of Public Policy with a research concentration of Management, Finance and Leadership. His dissertation research seeks to identify strategies for the application and implementation of performance evaluation tools to benchmark DoD supply-chain transformation efforts.

Michael J. Arendt (