The Department of Defense is developing an energy strategy that will take it “well into the 21st century,” said Sharon Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operation energy plans and programs, at the Naval Energy Forum Wednesday.
“We have to get into how we actually plan, require and acquire,” Burke said. “We have to get to a point where we’re not making convenient assumptions that we’ll have perfect access and perfect allies and perfect supplies and everything will arrive where we need it, when we need it … because that’s not the world that we live in now, and it’s not the world that we’re going to be living in for the long view.”
Increasingly, the military is taking fuel off the battlefield through more energy-conscious operational planning, concepts of operation, specifications and requirements of major platforms and the way equipment is used, Burke said.
The military is extremely reliant on petroleum-based fuels and lubricants and batteries, Burke said. Alternative fuels receive a lot of attention, she noted, but new technologies like propeller coatings, solid-state lighting and gas turbine refinements are contributing to the efficiency of the force.
DOD uses 50 million gallons of fuel in Afghanistan every month, Burke said, noting that the department can do better.
“Efficiency is not a dirty word,” Burke said. “Efficiency and effectiveness can go together. … I know warfighters need what they need to get the job done.”
Efficiency and supply line concerns are important, Burke said, but building capability into the future force is essential.
“Once we field a force, our ability to improve it, to make it fundamentally better … is limited,” she said. “DOD can do some very important things, like rapid fielding of new equipment and refurbishing older equipment, but that isn’t the most efficient means of solving problems.”