Operational Energy

The 2018 National Defense Strategy outlines a security environment characterized by strategic competition and a “lethal and disruptive battlefield, combined across domains, and conducted at increasing speed and reach,” where even the “homeland is no longer a sanctuary.” These multi-domain risks are challenging the assured delivery of energy to the Joint forces. While operational energy is an essential component of our warfighting capability, longer operating distances, remote and austere geography, and anti-access/area denial threats are challenging the Department’s ability to assure the delivery of fuel. As the ability to deliver energy is placed at risk, so too is the Department’s ability to deploy and sustain forces around the globe.

The Department defines operational energy as the energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations. The term includes energy used by tactical power systems, generators and weapons platforms.* In FY 2017, the Department consumed over 85 million barrels of fuel to power ships, aircraft, combat vehicles, and contingency bases at a cost of nearly $8.2 billion.

The mission of ODASD(OE) is to enhance military capability, readiness, and resilience for the warfighter, while mitigating risk and cost in the supply and use of energy in operations and training. ODASD(OE) has four primary lines of effort:
  • Future Force Requirements. New systems and concepts 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.
  • Wargaming, Modeling, and Simulation. In partnership with OSD, Joint Staff, Combatant Commands, and the Military Departments, the Department continuously works to increase the lethality of the Warfighter. Operational Energy staff continuously participate in the planning and execution of wargames, as well as the assessment of game results. With the integration of realistic constraints to logistics capacity and threats to our fuel storage and distribution, our efforts will improve Department decision-making in operation plans, concept and capability development, and program investments. In order to capitalize on the advances made in wargames, ODASD(OE) supports the development and diffusion of modeling, simulation, and other analytical tools that enhance the Department’s ability to identify and mitigate warfighting risks associated with energy delivery and use.
  • Innovation. Through the ASD(EI&E), the ODASD(OE) oversees the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) to improve the Department’s military capabilities through targeted investments in operational energy science and technology (S&T). Since FY 2012, OECIF has invested over $255 million to improve the use of energy in base camps, use innovative consortia to enhance warfighting capabilities, strengthen the role of operational energy in Department modeling and simulation, increase the range and capability of the legacy tactical ground vehicle fleet, transform the operational energy performance of unmanned systems, advance thermal and power management technologies for high pulse power systems, and assess the wireless transmission of energy in the far-field. Our new starts in FY 2018 include assessments of operational energy science and technology gaps in meeting warfighter requirements over the near-, mid-, and far-term.
  • Warfighter Support. In coordination with the Combatant Commands and the Military Services, ODASD(OE) works closely with the warfighter to enhance lethality and readiness. We invested $4 million in 2017 to adapt Service training and education programs in each of the Services to increase operational reach and readiness. We have developed a repository to capture operational energy lessons learned and are using the information we have gleaned to influence warfighters on the effects of their energy decisions on risk, reach, and the readiness of the force. Finally, my team works with AFRICOM, EUCOM, and CENTCOM to decrease risk to operations by leading power assessments resulting in improved power reliability and reduced fuel consumption, which has direct effects on the reduction of vulnerable logistics convoys while providing more operational capability to commanders on the ground.
These lines of operation directly support the National Defense Strategy’s objectives to increase Joint lethality in contested environments through agile and resilient logistics. The Operational Energy Strategy reinforces the role of assured delivery of energy to the warfighter in enabling worldwide missions, and establishes objectives for increasing future capabilities and reducing risks associated with dependence on vulnerable supply lines.

*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.
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