More than 2.5 million are still without power in the northeast, just one of the many enduring impacts of Hurricane Sandy.
On Thursday, the Department of Defense launched a “significant airlift event” to assist in recovery efforts, including dispatching airlift equipment from the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command to deliver electric utility vehicles to the distressed region. The Air Mobility Command deployed 12 C-17 Globemasters and five C-5 Galaxy aircraft to transport personnel and equipment from Southern California Edison Utility Company to New York City, according to American Forces Press Service.
The Department of Defense also dispatched about 60 fuel trucks carrying 200,000 gallons of fuel to the northeast to assist first responders that are also vulnerable to the fuel shortages plaguing recovery efforts in the region.
Photo: U.S. Air Force crew offload Southern California Edison power repair equipment from a C-5 Galaxy on Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY on November 1, 2012. Courtesy of Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo and the U.S. Army.
A U.S. Air Force C-130 equipped with a Modular Airborne Firefighting System drops fire retardant to help combat the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs that has burned more than 18,500 acres and displaced more than 30,000 people in the area. U.S. Northern Command has also used its immediate response authorities to provide bulldozers, military fire trucks and soldiers to cut fire breaks.
In our 2010 study, Broadening Horizons: Climate Change and the U.S. Armed Forces, we noted that the Department of Defense may be called on to respond to more frequent and intense wildfires as a consequence of climate-related drought and temperature rise, including in vulnerable areas in the United States.
Photo: Courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher and the U.S. Air Force.
Speaking to an audience of defense industry representatives, international officers and energy policy leaders from the Pentagon this morning, Dr. Kevin Geiss, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, updated the Air Force’s efforts to promote energy security. Geiss’s office is responsible for providing oversight and direction for Air Force efforts that promote and lead to the effective and efficient use of energy in support of the global Air Force mission to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. The four tenets of the Air Force’s energy plan are to improve resiliency of Air Force energy supplies, reduce demand for energy, increase supply of energy through local power generation and change the Air Force’s culture to think of energy in all aspects of the Air Force mission.
One of the largest challenges for the Air Force is to reduce the overall demand for energy. The U.S. Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the Department of Defense (DOD), and almost eighty percent of that energy usage is from aviation operations, liquid fuels in particular. The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command consumes 60 percent of DOD’s aviation fuel – 39 percent of DOD’s total fuel consumption. Air Mobility Command is leading the way to reduce the Air Force burden on DOD’s energy bill by improving energy efficiency in its platforms.
Yesterday, everyone's favorite CNASer and uber-colleague Tom Ricks forwarded us an Air Force news story on the interest in alternative energy use for upcoming Space Fence projects. According to the report:
Ongoing technical and cost analyses could lead program officials to seek a mixture of alternative energy sources to fuel the next generation of massive ground-based radars that will track space objects and debris.
In October, Electronic Systems Center officials here released a Request for Proposal announcement for the Space Fence program. Valued at more than $3.5 billion, the program is expected to deliver a system of geographically dispersed ground-based sensors to provide timely assessment of space events...Regardless of the ultimate design, however, officials already know the huge S-band radars that will track mass of objects in space will require a lot of energy.
The combination of energy sources eventually used to power these systems will depend largely on siting and other project-related specifics. The article highlights that use of renewable fuels in the energy mix for these systems will help in long-term cost predictability and ensuring supplies, yet these decisions are bound to be extremely complex.
If you can today, thank a veteran for her/his service, or at very least keep America's vets in your thoughts today. Notably, the VA has also launched a new blog - VAntage Point - that is full of good reads.
Happy Veterans Day, everyone!
Last night, we hosted a top secret, off-the-record, “this didn’t happen” energy event with government and private sector experts who have a broad range of energy and national security expertise. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t as top secret as we’re making it out to be given the fact that we’re touting it on the blog this morning. But for the 42 of you reading this post this morning, certainly consider yourself in the know.
What follows below are some brief thoughts on the future of the military, the Department of Defense and our energy needs. We offer these points up as some food for thought as we take a step back from the event last night and go easy on the writing this morning:
We are all here because we care about energy security – finding reliably available, affordable, and sustainable supplies sufficient to meet our demand. DOD’s energy security is a more complex concept perhaps than that of the rest of the economy: our operations depend on global supply availability, adaptability for use in multiple platforms, and infrastructure resiliency. The ability of our soldiers, sailors and Marines to do their jobs is on the line. And as we were reminded last week by the news of refined fuel being smuggled from our allies in Iraq to Iran, in defiance of new U.S. sanctions, the geopolitical impacts of our current energy system often hit U.S. security and foreign policy interests particularly hard.
In recognition of the new, thought provoking CNAS publications released yesterday ahead of our Fourth Annual Conference, the Natural Security team will be analyzing our colleagues’ work this week on the blog, providing, of course, a Natural Security spin on the reports. Today’s featured report: To Serve the Nation: U.S. Special Operations Forces in an Era of Persistent Conflict, by Michele L. Malvesti.
“[Special Operations Forces] are in the midst of a resurgence, with their core capabilities aligning with the irregular and potentially catastrophic security threats of today’s geostrategic environment,” writes Michele L. Malvesti in her recent report, To Serve the Nation: U.S. Special Operations Forces in an Era of Persistent Conflict.
When it comes to Natural Security, it may not be obvious how natural resources issues and climate change engage Special Operations Forces (SOF), their interests and core capabilities. But as Malvesti points out in her report, “U.S. Special Operation Forces are ideally suited to help protect and advance U.S. security interests in an increasingly complex geostrategic environment,” including, perhaps, the complex challenges associated with climate change and natural resource issues.
Take climate change in particular. We have reported here on the blog before that SOF already play a role in responding to humanitarian crises in the wake of severe natural disasters, such as tropical storms. In fact, in a previous post here, I shared a Defense Department photo of U.S. Navy SEALs providing humanitarian relief to Filipinos in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ketsana that left nearly a half-million displaced in the Philippines last September.
We take today to remember the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have sacrificed their lives in service to our nation. And we thank the U.S. military men and women who, every day, continue to risk their lives to protect the United States - and their families who endure.
Photo: Flags of the U.S. Navy's Task Force Trident fly at half-mast in respect of two American and one Romanian NATO service members at Camp Mogensen at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan on May 13, 2010. Courtesy of Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jeremy L. Wood and the U.S. Navy.
One of the things I find myself doing time and again while checking out any lengthy defense document is looking at the broad array of projects DOD branches will be, theoretically, undertaking. One of the common characteristics, however, is that due to the large volume of potential projects they often are simply listed and the really cool ones (read: Natural Security-related ones) get buried amidst projects to increase the number of portojohns at Wright-Patt AFB in Dayton, Ohio and the like (though that’s not a real project).
Check out eleven cool projects (including their costs and location in the FY 2011 NDAA), all of them are mapped out to their exact location, thanks to Google Earth!
“If you had to pick a place that would be the mother of all humanitarian emergencies over the next 20 years, the Navy and Air Force might focus on Bangladesh,” said Robert Kaplan, CNAS senior fellow and correspondent with The Atlantic Monthly, at the April 29, 2010 event, Natural Security: Navigating the Future Global Environment. “And you know, Bangladesh you laugh about because there’s always trouble in Bangladesh, but Bangladesh has 150 million people. That’s more than the population of Russia.”
As the national security community continues to shift from studying to responding to climate change, understanding where climate changes will be most acute will be critical for the United States – and in particular the U.S. armed forces – to prepare for future challenges, such as an increase in humanitarian and disaster relief missions. “We’re facing some immense humanitarian catastrophes in the future that we’re seeing the militarization of humanitarian relief because only navies and air forces have the lift capacity to get fresh water and supplies to many of these littoral areas,” said Kaplan.