As Edward Humes reports in "Blood and Oil" in the new issue of Sierra, the Pentagon is getting serious about alternative energy--not so much out of concern for global warming, but because of the heavy toll its position as the world's single largest consumer of oil takes in blood and treasure. He does note, however, that "A fundamental hurdle facing the military's green mission is that despite the ambitious goals set by each branch, there is still no overarching strategy from the Pentagon."
The strategy has three basic components. The top priority, called “More fight, less fuel,” boils down to basic energy efficiency – using less energy, spending less money. That means investing in new technology that can power the same tanks, jets, and aircraft carriers with less conventional fuel, such as hybrid and electric engines. It also means low-tech solutions like lightening cargo loads and finding new, shorter aircraft routes . . .
The second priority is “More options, less risk.” This translates into a drive to diversify energy sources. Today, almost all military operations rely on petroleum. The idea is to create different sources to do the same work -- using solar power instead of diesel to operate bases, as two bases in Afghanistan’s Helmand province are doing, or biofuels to fly jet planes
The third is “More capability, less cost: Build energy security into the future force.” The idea there is to build the goals of reducing energy use and increasing energy options into all the military’s long-term planning – an approach that could yield deep structural changes in military operations in decades to come.
For much more detail, be sure to read Humes' story.
Image: The F/A-18F 'Green Hornet' strike fighter runs on 50 percent biofuel. | U.S. Navy/Liz Goettee/Released