The Department of Defense has one of the largest budgets of any entity in the world, and there is a growing realization that the DoD is entirely based on the use of fossil fuels. If an alternative could be found to power the machinations of the DoD, the nation’s security would be vastly increased and there is a strong possibility that costs could be cut as well. This sample research paper from Ultius discusses the details of switching the DoD to something that has sustainable energy supplies.
Department Of Defense: Military Moves Towards Energy Efficiency
Regardless of all the accusatory finger pointing towards this nation or that, in terms of fossil fuel energy wastefulness, many may not comprehend the reality of the situation. Some might be utterly surprised to learn that the United States military, according to various accounts, are most likely the worldwide champions when it comes to operational energy consumption. In fact, according to one Congressional Service Research report, “Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress” experts Schwartz, Blakeley, and O’Rourke inform that literally billions of dollars are spent annually upon “petroleum-based liquid fuel” thereby establishing the Department of Defense’s main source of performance supplies. In the globalized economy that the U.S. finds itself, wherein the intricacies of international economy and commerce has been the center of so much focus, what can anyone personally – let alone at the organizational or federal level – do without an adequate source of energy?
Sustainable Energy Practices
There are three basic ways how the Department of Defense might best pursue better sustainable energy resources and approaches:
1. The engagement of perhaps capturing an alternative energy solution altogether
2. Instigate a reduction of energy usage to assuage the plight of costly spending and energy waste
3. Find a plausible method to balance the two previous considerations
Government as a public administration entity must be concerned with effectiveness and efficiency, yet oftentimes may have gotten bogged down with routine implementations of daily activities. It is no wonder then that Defense Acquisition, Foreign Affairs Analyst, and Naval Affairs specialists speak to the issue in their collective report to proclaim that various Department of Defense (DOD) hearing debates have been on the Congressional platform for initiative discourse.
Is a sustainable energy alternative feasible?
After costs are reigned in, would it be actually feasible for such an enormous military effort as large as that of the United States entire military force to shift to an alternative energy source such as solar or wind energy? This concept bears investigation. According to the same aforementioned Congressional Research Service report it is acknowledged and affirmed that by its own estimation, the DOD utilizes approximately 75% of its energy for operational tasks and the remaining 25% for installation interests, or non-tactical activities and over a period of the last decade “substantially” increased its “overall budget” to some $17 billion in the 2011 Fiscal Year. Nevertheless, the case for a total shift to alternative fuel considers far more than meets the eye. Any argument over which branch of military service like the Navy or Air Force uses more energy would actually be a moot point and unproductive in trying to solve the problem.
In consideration of a reliable, total, and sustainably workable net-zero energy program that makes a shift away from current expensive oil-supply dependency planning and implementation would need to be impeccable. A shift toward use of biodiesel has been one of the possible transitions considered. Lee Daniel comments in his article, “The Military Lines Up for Net Zero” from a publication in Planning, tackles just that question. Daniel announces that this biggest national employer has set out goals to not only deal with expense of energy based on oil imports and “potential operational vulnerabilities,” but that the DOD has hit upon a plan entitled the DOD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. Curbing financial costs and improving spending efficiency as well as enhancing military operations capabilities will help to avoid:
• Colossal disaster outages
• Power deficits due to utility disruptions whether caused by attacks
• Any other such likelihoods
When you think about the vast lands, water assets, and inter-connectivity of carrying out such a lofty goal, management technology and teamwork will need to be at its finest.
Daniel reports that part of the sustainability approach of the DOD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan would utilize several military bases as “test beds” with each location to serve as sort of a prototype in the quest for how a
“net-zero installation represents both an ultimate goal and a process to help determine an optimal energy, water, and waste strategy for the DOD and its collective assets.”
Given the sensitive and seriousness of military endeavors demands that the best in agricultural, financial, and engineering expertise in all areas of planning and implementation converge to assimilate a program that truly enables a 100% alternative energy solution to be realized.
Tiered goals of the DoD
In pursuit of sustainable energy solutions, the DOD Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan plans to utilize tiered levels for its development in coordination of all federal agencies and involvement by doing some of the following:
1. A 30 percent energy reduction by the year 2015
2. Reducing potable water consumption by 2 percent annually, through year 2020
3. A diversion of 50 percent non-hazardous solid waste
Of course, since many military installations procure their own supply of energy it appears that this method of incremental testing makes good common sense to pursue a switchover to bypassing the usefulness of fossil oil-based fuels, while also targeting steam energy in particular to begin to be phased out. While abandoning fossil fuels would definitely be a positive approach in the minimization of global warming, perhaps a severe reduction in energy usage is a better answer.
Timeline for transition
Given the complexities and uncertainty, along with the timeliness involved in shifting altogether to an alternative foundational base of energy, the smartest idea may for now simply be to cutback on energy use and implement steps to reduce energy expenditure overall. In the Naval War College Review journal, University Professor Dr. Steve Yetiv and Lieutenant Alaina Chambers in “The Great Green Fleet: The U.S. Navy and Fossil-Fuel Alternatives” discuss and snap that the reality embraces more than the
“obvious issues of the costs of transportation and the protection of oil resources and infrastructure but extend to broader problems as well.”
They also remark that if you wait for 100 percent certainty in any given situation, it is impossible to prepare for or respond to threats imposed upon military operational concerns. With this in mind, the switchover to a completely green solution and entirely replacing the existent oil-and-foreign dependent energy supply might be impractical at best – and devastating at worse.
It would probably be a good move to engage scientific means to figure out just where and how to most effectively reduce wastefulness in energy that is currently in place. Individuals can endeavor to cut energy waste in their personal lives by doing simple things like:
- Turning off electrically based lighting when not in use
- Turning down the heating or air conditioning system can exponentially save money
- Investing in higher efficiency appliances when upgrading items for the home
- Replacing windows with energy efficient models
Similar approaches can be implemented at the military industrial level which will keep them in compliance with the evolving nature of U.S. environmental policy. One thing is certain, this problem will not be solved on short order. As they say, Rome was not built in a day. Suzanne Roig in “Defense Officials defend ‘Great Green Fleet’ cost” convinces of the complexity of the situation that while Congressional critics argue that biofuel is too expensive “The Senate is girding for a battle,” while Republicans denounce the military’s green “energy push” as just another ploy of the Obama Administration to foolishly promote an extensive alternative fuels program which make “little economic sense.” It always seems to come down to the matter of money. What’s it going to cost, and who’s going to pay for it? Meanwhile Chambers and Yetiv note that
“the Pentagon is struggling to identify the true cost of supplying deployed units in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
It may seem ideal to balance the two as a solution, but under present circumstances a reduction of energy usage may be deemed the best.
Chambers, Alaina M., and Steve A. Yetiv. 2011. “The Great Green Fleet: The U.S. Navy and Fossil-Fuel Alternatives.” Naval War College Review 64, no. 3: 61-77. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2013).
Lee, Daniel. “The Military Lines Up for Net Zero.” Planning 79, no. 4 (April 2013): 16-20. Business Source Elite, EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2013).
Roig, Suzanne. “Defense Officials defend ‘Great Green Fleet’ cost.” Reuters (July 2012).
Schwartz, Moshe, Blakeley, Katherine, and Ronald O’Rourke. Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2012. [Series 7-5700 and R42558]. Notes
1. Moshe Schwartz, Katherine Blakeley, and Ronald O’Rourke. Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2012. [Series 7-5700 and R42558]:1.
2. Ibid., 1.
3. Ibid., 1.
4. Daniel Lee, “The Military Lines Up for Net Zero.” Planning 79, no. 4 (April 2013): 16.
5. Ibid., 16.
6. Ibid., 17.
7. Ibid., 17.
8. Ibid., 18.
9. Alaina M. Chambers, and Steve A. Yetiv. 2011. “The Great Green Fleet: The U.S. Navy and Fossil-Fuel Alternatives.” Naval War College Review 64, no. 3: 62.
10. Suzanne Roig, “Defense Officials defend ‘Great Green Fleet’ cost.” Reuters (July 2012): n.p.
11. Alaina M. Chambers, and Steve A. Yetiv. 2011. “The Great Green Fleet: The U.S. Navy and
Fossil-Fuel Alternatives.” Naval War College Review 64, no. 3: 62.