Camp Lejeune recently became the first U.S. Marine Corps base to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification with the completion of its Reserve Training Center and Tank Maintenance Facility. The facility supports 56 marines, 9 M1 A1 Abrams tanks, an M-88 Recovery Vehicle, and meets all the requirements to be LEED Silver certified. "We’ve proven it can be done," said Camp Lejeune’s commanding officer, Col. Richard P. Flatau Jr. "Hopefully that raises the bar for our own staff in planning, but also for the contractors that compete for construction jobs here, now they know it’s doable. It really is an honor to be the first base with a LEED Silver facility…once again Camp Lejeune is out in front.”
Photo: Courtesy of Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Yesterday the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program hosted the Army Environmental Policy Institute’s 31st sustainability lecture on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) strategic energy opportunities and challenges. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Tad Davis introduced keynote speaker Dr. Amory Lovins who sits on the Defense Science Board’s Task Force on DoD Energy Strategy and helped advise the 2008 DSB report, More Fight – Less Fuel.
According to Lovins, DoD’s long energy logistics tail is putting the Department’s core mission at risk and it is paying for it in “blood, treasure, and lost combat effectiveness.” Fuel and fuel logistics are what has become largely understood as the “soft underbelly” of the Department of Defense. As Lovins pointed out, 1/2 of DoD personnel and 1/3 of its budget are dedicated to logistics. When the Defense Science Board was conducting its study several years ago it concluded that 1/2 of in-theater causalities were associated with convoys as well (though Lovins noted that this number does not reflect today’s total). Lovins also pointed out that of the military’s top 10 most fuel-intensive platforms, 8 are noncombat systems. “It’s an odd way to fight a war when the water heater uses more fuel than a helicopter,” Lovins said.
I sat down last night preparing for 3+ hours of panel and PowerPoint presentations. While this came to fruition, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the diversity of my colleagues at the dinner table. Although I enjoy a good lecture, having it commentated by a nuclear physicist, energy consultant, and Senate staffer added immensely to my experience.
To get right down to the nuts and bolts of it, I attended part of a lecture series called “The Energy Conversation.” This is a great program that aims to “foster and showcase the unprecedented collaboration between government, industry, and non profits” in order to “successfully build a sustainable energy future.” The specific lecture I attended was even more interesting: “U.S. Military Energy Strategies.” The panel represented some of the finest in our armed forces working on energy issues, including members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Office of the Secretary of Defense. I highly suggest checking out their biographies and getting acquainted with their programs.
“Energy has always been an important point in the military,” said Dr. Barbara McQuiston, special assistant for energy at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), in an October 6, 2009, interview with Armed with Science – a Department of Defense webcast. “You can go back to history and look at fodder to feed the horses in the Napoleonic wars; and you can look at today, all the way to Afghanistan where energy is a key enabler and, at times, a key limitation.”
Scientists at DARPA are working with multiple private sector partners on energy technologies that could have a “real game-changing nature [for] the future,” McQuiston said. In particular, DARPA scientists have a robust portfolio that includes programs in “energy creation, energy conversions, and energy control” aimed at improving tactical energy independence by shrinking the long logistics tail of forward deployed military units in countries like Afghanistan.
One disaster after another seems to be hitting the Pacific Ocean area. We’ve been following emergency relief efforts as the military tries to aid those hit by Typhoons Parma and Melor, Tropical Storm Ketsana, as well as the earthquake in Indonesia and the tsunami it spawned that hit American Samoa. With so many relief operations occurring simultaneously, it is important to know how we’re using our forces and what resources have been most valuable.
The Washington Post does an interesting snapshot of how wildlife and war have intertwined in Sudan; the good news is that many animals are returning to now more-peaceful areas, which could help spur some economic growth.
India is changing course on climate change, according to a New York Times analysis. (This reminds us of the results of CNAS's climate change future scenario exercise last year.)
In Nigeria, leading rebels who are responsible for many attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure have agreed to an amnesty agreement in exchange for education and money, BBC reports. However, some are not sure if the amnesty agreements have been effective, according to the The New York Times.
The Philippines are suffering from yet another storm, as Typhoon Parma has caused more flooding and may double back and hit the islands again, according to a BBC report. This has raised doubts about political leadership in Manila, Bulatlat, a Philippine paper, reports.
The U.S. military has been busy distributing aid to the Samoans and have been pulling forces from across the region to help those in the Philippines, The Army Times and the Marine Corps Times report. The Air Force reports that it is also sending two C-17s to assist in Indonesia.
Yesterday, CNAS hosted Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, Director of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Readiness Division, and Rear Admiral David Titley, Oceanographer and Navigator of the U.S. Navy, for Climate Change, Energy, and Maritime Security: Promoting the Dialogue. Representatives from the military, Capitol Hill, the Executive branch, other research organizations, and the private sector joined us for this off-the-record conversation, which focused on how the maritime services and those who work with them are thinking about energy security and climate change issues. It was a great conversation in which a few overarching themes were clear.
First, many of the Navy’s leaders not only care about climate change and energy security, but also want their service to be forward-thinking on both issues and provide leadership for the country. Second, participants seemed to take a holistic view of these problems. All aspects of the problem are actively considered, from reducing fuel dumping by aircraft, to using lower-carbon fuels, to better rewarding men and women in uniform for environmental stewardship. Notably, participants emphasized that they saw energy security and climate change as inseparable parts of a single challenge – an idea that has gained acceptance in recent years but which is still challenged at times. There is significant collaboration between the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change and Task Force Energy, led by our two guest Admirals, showing that the Navy is active in linking energy and climate issues.
Environmental journalist and author Michael Grunwald, writing in Foreign Policy’s special report Oil: the Long Goodbye, takes on the “Seven Myths About Alternative Energy.” Grunwald is less sanguine on the prospects for using alternative energy sources such as biofuels, solar, and nuclear power than using energy efficiency and conservation to reduce fossil fuel reliance and greenhouse gas emissions. Regardless of the efficacy of the seven now-common alternative energy narratives that the author identifies, the Department of Defense, the largest U.S. energy consumer, is moving along with many relevant plans and purchases. Let’s take a look at how DOD activities align with Grunwald’s piece.