By Vice Adm. Phil Cullom
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics (N4)
Forward, from the sea. That’s the mandate we have as the U.S. Navy. Bringing the fight to our enemies, guarding the sea lines of communication, and being there where and when it matters, are what make us the world’s greatest fighting force. Energy is central to our naval forces’ ability to deploy forward and project power whenever the nation calls. Our Navy and Marine Corps combat team must understand that smart use of energy enhances our combat effectiveness.
October is National Energy Action Month, and the theme for this year has been “Energy Action=Mission Success.” Energy efficiency must shape the decisions we make every day—from the research and development of new platforms and weapons systems, the operation of our installations, and the way we train and operate around the globe. While this month is at an end, in the coming months we must continue to positively disrupt the future by thinking innovatively and seizing opportunities to extend our operational reach today and work to incorporate energy considerations into the procurement and future force development processes.
High energy weapons, such as rail guns and lasers, will be working their way into our future platforms. Coupled with extended range sensors and C4I systems, energy will become a resource that not only powers our mobility but also serves as our sensor and weapon. We are breathing life into Admiral Ernie King’s World War II slogan, “Energy is Ammunition.” New energy efficient technology will be essential to making these a reality in the years to come. USS Makin Island (LHD 8) was the first amphibious assault ship to be commissioned with an electric auxiliary propulsion system, followed by USS America (LHA 6), which was commissioned this month. Both ships serve as examples of increased operational capability through efficient energy use. And in a few years, we will have our very first hybrid-electric drive equipped destroyers operating in the fleet. With advances in energy storage, we can complete the vision by seamlessly routing energy to propulsion, sensors and weapons. We’ve tested and certified advanced biofuels for use as drop-in replacements in our ships and aircraft, creating additional fuel options that will reduce our future dependence on foreign oil. The Marine Corps is developing and integrating energy harvesting technologies – knee braces, backpacks, and flexible solar panels – that generate power on the move. These systems will lighten the carried load, increase mobility, and extend the operational reach of our warfighters at the tip of the spear. On our installations, we’ve installed meters, solar panels, and other renewable energy systems, improving infrastructure and base resiliency – to be ready in the event of disasters.
Technology alone is not the answer; as a team we need to adopt an energy efficient mindset. When every Sailor and Marine understands the true value of energy, we can make daily personal and professional decisions about energy use that ultimately make us a more effective fighting force. We must identify and incorporate energy efficient practices ashore and afloat, while training and deployed. Navy recently released the downloadable Energy Warrior app, available free for iPads and Android devices, which highlights efforts of naval personnel who are already taking innovative steps to conserve energy and lead behavioral change. The app is now available for iPhones as well, and I encourage you to download the app and join the conversation – just search your app store for “Navy Energy Warrior.”
It is imperative that we continue to foster innovation so that our warfighters have the tactical advantage at home and while deployed. Through a comprehensive effort, we will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, minimize our tactical and strategic vulnerabilities, improve our combat capability, and continue to make our Navy/Marine Corps team a leader in energy security. I challenge each of you to become an Energy Warrior and join the team that will help shape the future and preserve the preeminence of our world class for another 239 years.
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