Lynn: Energy strategy will help forces adapt for future

  • Published
  • By Lisa Daniel
  • American Forces Press Service
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III released the Defense Department's new operational energy strategy June 14, saying it is consistent with efforts to adapt the forces to emerging threats.

Mr. Lynn said he and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have been consistent in speaking of the need to "better manage the defense enterprise to adapt our forces to emerging threats, and to sustain a strong and capable military."

"Our use of energy cuts across each of these issues," he said during a Pentagon news briefing. "It affects military planners, acquisition managers and the warfighters alike. The way we build energy into our operations is a core part of fighting and winning the nation's wars."

Mr. Lynn released the strategy during a briefing with Sharon Burke, the assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, a position created after the quadrennial defense review in 2010 raised the need for the military's energy use to be considered in operational strategy. Secretary Gates and President Barack Obama supported the idea, and it was signed into law as part of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.

The department makes up 80 percent of the federal government's energy use, and 1 percent of the nation as a whole, Mr. Lynn said. It spent $15 billion on energy last year, 75 percent of which was for military operations.

The department's gasoline costs are up 225 percent from a decade ago, he added.

In releasing the strategy, Mr. Lynn and Ms. Burke said the plan will reduce costs, and also improve military capabilities.

"Not only does (energy) cost the taxpayers, it costs the warfighters," Mr. Lynn said. "Every dollar spent on energy use is a dollar not spent on other warfighting priorities."

Mr. Lynn said there is "a clear connection" between innovation and energy technology and the ability to project military power.

"Whether deploying and sustaining forces at the front, or powering mission-critical facilities they depend on in the rear, everything we do, every mission we perform, requires significant amounts of energy," he said.

But, he added, "Ensuring the forces have the energy they need, when they need it, is not easy."

At least 80 percent of land convoys in Afghanistan are for transporting fuel to warfighters, Mr. Lynn said.

The routes are laced with roadside bombs and prone to ambush, he noted, resulting in 1,100 insurgent attacks last year.

"The less energy we need, the more operationally resilient we will be," he said.

The strategy addresses energy needs as a broad, military challenge and calls for reducing demand, improving efficiency and lowering costs, Mr. Lynn said.

"This strategy is good for the taxpayers and the warfighters, and it's long overdue," he said.