The first ever joint Army-Air Force Energy Forum took place this week, and the participants have a message for outdated conventional fuels: don’t let the door hit you on your way out. At the capacity-booked event, senior leadership, including four- and three-star generals, outlined “the strategic importance and future direction of Army and Air Force energy” in terms of innovation, technology, conservation and sustainability. The spirit of the event was best summed up by Dr. Kevin Geiss, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Air Force for Energy, who told a bloggers’ roundtable that the Air Force was born in a transformational advancement in technology, and that “at its core, the DNA of the Air Force is to respect technology.”
Bloggers’ Roundtable at Army-Air Force Energy Forum
CleanTechnica was invited to the roundtable, which featured Dr. Geiss and Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability. Dr. Geiss reminded the participants that the need to focus on energy as a systematic element in long term national defense strategy was articulated back in the 1988 National Security Strategy. Since then, the core issues of financial costs, loss of life due to fuel transportation and storage risks, and the constriction of operational flexibility have intensified under the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Interplay Between Civilian and Military Sustainability
Geiss was optimistic about the ability of the biofuel industry to meet the Air Force’s growing interest in jet biofuel, particularly in light of new alternative fuel partnerships with the commercial aviation sector. He also noted that the presence of large numbers of Air Force reservists in commercial aviation has engendered a fairly direct line of communication for innovative technologies and procedures between the military and civilian sectors. Kidd followed up on the civilian-military dynamic on the community level, by pointing out that for Army installations, “energy, waste, and water solutions have to be done in concert with local communities.”
Servicemen and Women as Green Ambassadors
Kidd noted that an entire battalion has been deployed to Afghanistan with sustainable technology. The troops trained in Kansas and were so comfortable with the gear that upon arriving in Afghanistan they took it straight to the field without waiting for the mobile training unit, which had been delayed. “They are extremely happy with it,” said Kidd, because it has reduced the operational burden and supply logistics involved with conventional fuel and batteries. As these service members cycle in and out of the civilian world, that enthusiasm for new sustainable technology will reach virtually every community in the U.S.
The True Value of Energy
The roundtable covered a lot of ground in a brief half-hour, and about midway through Kidd hit the main note for both the Army and the Air Force. Citing the Energy Forum itself as clear evidence that the military is “talking about energy in a way it has never been done before,” he stated that “the Army is changing the way it values energy.” It’s unfortunate that in the very moment that the U.S. military has adopted a transformational concept of sustainability, some federal legislators are digging in their heels and pushing for “dirty fuels,” but perhaps events like the Energy Forum will help convince more policymakers that there is a lot more to “support our troops” than waving a flag at them.
Read more about the U.S. military and sustainability:
- Military Opposes GOP on Dirty Fuel Rule
- Geothermal Energy Could Make U.S. a Supplier of Energy, Not Just a Consumer
- U.S. Army Has a Net Zero Vision for National Security
- Legendary Air Force Thunderbirds Give Camelina Jet Biofuel a Workout
Image: Marine in Afghanistan by DVIDSHUB on flickr.com
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