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TRANSCOM, AFMC commanders shed light on energy conservation, measurements

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Military senior leaders provided their perspective on operational energy and its associated metrics during the Army Air Force Energy Forum here July 20.

Gen. Duncan McNabb and Gen. Donald Hoffman, the respective commanders of U.S. Transportation Command and Air Force Materiel Command, joined U.S. Army North commander Lt. Gen. Guy Swan and Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, the U.S. Army Forces Command deputy commander, to discuss the evolution of energy reduction strategies in movement of people and cargo and the best ways to measure their effectiveness.

Responsible for global land, air and sea transportation for the Department of Defense, McNabb stressed that energy conservation plays a key role in national security.

He lauded each of the services for their roles in finding better ways to perform command and control, with particular emphasis on Air Mobility Command's cost savings of nearly $500 million dollars in recent years as a result of conservation.

"Saving 1, 2, 3, 5 or 10 percent (makes) a big difference," McNabb said, adding that energy reduction "is about culture, about changing everybody's mindset and having everybody thinking about how we can do things better."

Building energy into military operations, McNabb added, is a core part of fighting and winning the nation's wars.

He said he seeks ongoing feedback in improving the concept of operations and blending joint, interagency teams and commercial partner teams.

"How do we also involve the civil reserve air fleet and military maritime sealift fleet and work with the commercial world in a way that allows us to very quickly transition from commercial to military?" he asked, adding that the ideal is to develop streamlined surface-to-air delivery for the warfighter while ensuring a more efficient end-to-end supply chain.

"When you do that more efficiently, most of the savings you get are from fuel and the savings are huge," McNabb said.

The general mentioned over-flight cost-saving opportunities, in which warfighter airlift to and from the theater of operations can occur over the Arctic versus travelling east or west.

These relatively simple reroutes, McNabb said, could not only potentially reduce warrior transport time by several hours, but could equate to fuel cost savings of about $170,000 dollars or more each way per flight.

In addition to more expedient routing, diversified methods of transportation can lead to dividends for the services, McNabb said, citing the success of multi-mobile operations.

He offered as an example the monthly movement of about 1,000 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles by shipping them from the Gulf-state seaports to airfields in the area of responsibility, and flying them via C-17 Globemaster III to their final destinations, saving the command more than $110 million dollars a month.

"We move more fuel in the air every day in TRANSCOM than we move cargo around the world," McNabb explained, adding that he expects the Air Force's modernized tanker fleet to carry cargo farther, making each sortie more productive. "You have no idea how much fuel we're also moving in the air that allows those fighters, bombers and (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets to be able to play in a distant place like Afghanistan every day."

Success stories, McNabb said, such as TRANSCOM's partnership with Defense Logistics Agency, has helped save about $5 billion dollars since 2003.

"Doing things smarter really does make a huge difference," McNabb said.

During the panel discussion, Hoffman examined both energy-saving methods and metrics in his remarks, following those of McNabb.

"The absolute lifeblood of the modern military is energy," Hoffman said. "It allows us to be expeditionary and go anywhere on the globe."

He explained that energy independence is better described as energy assurance in the global and political context of being able to find energy solutions and strategies anywhere, even in hostile nations.

He added that despite location, affordability is a significant factor in energy conservation feasibility.

"Energy is always going to be there at some cost; it's just a matter of which nations, which organizations, which individuals can afford that cost," Hoffman said. "If you've got the money you can assure energy longer than those that don't have money but cost is important for all of us."

Hoffman also noted that though many Americans lament the cost of gasoline at an average of $4 per gallon, it's still less expensive than bottled water.

As such, Hoffman cited the importance of measuring energy in quantity and cost in relation to outcome.

"What outcome did (the measure) achieve, and what mission was the mission?" Hoffman asked in reference to the metric of output. "Just looking at fuel burned per hour is not the right focus from an energy standpoint. ... (Instead) get the ratio between energy consumed versus outcome delivery."

In addition to outcome, Hoffman said, incentives can play a key part in getting consumer buy-in of energy conservation measures.

"What's the incentive for an individual to be more energy conscious?" Hoffman asked. "The closer we can incentivize to the point of consumption, the more effective we're going to be."

He also said good metrics will allow units to make proper choices and truly change the culture of how individuals and organizations view energy.

"We need an enduring set of policies to get us to the state that we want to be in for assured energy," Hoffman said.