Operational Energy

Operational Energy (OE) is defined in statute as the “energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations,” and includes energy used by ships, aircraft, combat vehicles, and tactical power generators. Operational energy includes energy used by tactical power systems and generators, as well as by weapons platforms themselves. The Department considers operational energy to be the energy used in military operations, in direct support of military operations, and in training that supports unit readiness for military operations, to include the energy used at non-enduring locations (contingency bases)*.

In Fiscal Year 2014, the Department used over 87 million barrels of fuel, at a cost of nearly $14 billion. Overall, operational energy comprised 70% of the Department energy use by volume.

The ASD(EI&E) is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) on matters relating to energy, installations and environment; and the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense regarding Operational Energy (OE) plans and programs. In September 2015, Ms. Amanda Simpson was sworn in as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, DASD(OE).

Operational Energy in Warfighting

Energy has long been a fundamental enabler of military operations. From hay for Napoleon’s horses to coaling stations for the Great White Fleet to fuel for General Patton’s breakout from Normandy to the advent of aerial refueling and underway replenishment to supporting distributed contingency bases in Afghanistan, energy – mostly petroleum – is a prerequisite for military power. Today, operational energy enables movement, speed, endurance, time on station, and range by Joint forces in the air, on land, and at sea.

However, the Department’s ability to deliver operational energy to where and when it’s needed is at increasing risk. For instance, the difficulty of moving energy across the last tactical mile of resupply, in the face of improvised explosive devices, irregular adversaries, and insurgent attacks will remain a part of the operational environment. Likewise, our ability to project and sustain power worldwide will be challenged by anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) weapons able to target our combat and logistics forces with long-range precision. Together, A2/AD threats, hybrid adversaries, and the tyranny of distance mean a greater risk to assured delivery of operational energy.


The mission of the ODASD(OE) is to assure the delivery of operational energy to military forces training and operating around the globe.

Our strategy includes three objectives:
  • Increase Future Warfighting Capability. First and foremost, the Department is focused on increasing long-term warfighting capability. Systems under development need to be evaluated for their effectiveness and supportability in the types of combat scenarios in which they are expected to be used. The Department will improve future combat effectiveness and capability by thoroughly integrating energy supportability into capability development and investing in innovation tailored to an enhanced ability to operate in contested environments.
  • Identify and Reduce Logistics and Operational Risks. In partnership with OSD, Joint Staff, Combatant Commands, and the Military Departments, the Department now has a better, yet still incomplete, understanding of the specific risks associated with energy in operation plans and in concepts of operations. In order to capitalize on the advances made in wargames, modeling, simulation, and other analytical tools, the Department will focus on identifying risks and prioritizing resources for their mitigation.
  • Enhance Mission Effectiveness of the Current Force. The Department also understands the importance of improving energy use in combat and peacetime missions carried out around the globe every day. The Department will pursue a range of materiel and non-materiel initiatives that improve energy use in the near-term. As appropriate, priority will be given to near-term initiatives that improve the robustness and flexibility of the energy supply chain, enhance the ability to operate in contested environments, and support the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

*Traditionally, the scope of operational energy excludes nuclear energy used for the propulsion of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines, as well as the energy used for military space launch and operations. Operational energy does include the energy needed to operate the carrier’s embarked aircraft and helicopters.
For technical assistance contact the AT&L Webmaster at OSD.ATL-Webmaster@mail.mil
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