News In Brief

Military and Energy: The Spokesperson

Scott Tong Aug 29, 2011

This
week Marketplace airs a special series on the U.S. military and energy, and the
quest
to “unleash us from the tether of fuel.”

Among the voices and perspectives from the series:

Assistant Secretary of Defense Sharon Burke

Burke runs the Pentagon office that manages energy for training and military operations. That accounts for 75 percent of the DoD’s footprint of 300,000 barrels per day. In June, her office released a long-awaited strategy to “transform the way the department consumes energy in military operations.”

Among the goals: cut demand, diversify supply, incorporate energy use into future planning.

From her interview with Marketplace:

The Pentagon’s a-ha moment (listen to excerpt here):
“For us back in Washington, the a-ha moment that really got our attention was Gen. James Mattis back in the 2004 time frame, coming back from both Afghanistan and Iraq, and saying “unleash us from the tether of fuel.” He was seeing our fuel demand as a limitation on what we could do militarily.”

On vulnerable supply lines in Iraq and Afghanistan:
“These wars, we’re dispersing our force. We’re not behind our front line the way we might have been in the past. So it’s a little harder to protect those supply lines. They are in teh fight… And then second the amount of fuel we consume is different. And the way we consume fuel is different. The volume is greater than it has been before. And sort of the criticality at the unit level is different than it has been before.”

On energy innovation (listen to excerpt here):
“It’s essential to that core mission that we promote innovation. In specific energy terms if you look at, for example, the way the military has incorporated nuclear power into some of our naval assets, we needed to be able to go long distances and stay, without being resupplied and sometimes to be stealthy and not seen. And nuclear gave us the capability we needed. So we innovated.”

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