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Keynote addresses USCENTCOM operational energy challenges

By Thomas Gagnier U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

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A Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges (DITAC) event was held in Tampa, FL - October 3-5, 2017. Major General Edward Dorman, director for logistics, U. S. Central Command, delivered a keynote presentation.

Major General Edward Dorman, director for logistics, U.S. Central Command, charges a hand-held portable device from a USB port powered by a solar powered light cart at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The carts are part of an operational energy initiative to reduce USCENTCOM's carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. (379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs courtesy image)
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar (Sept. 22, 2017) - Major General Edward Dorman, director for logistics, U.S. Central Command, charges a hand-held portable device from a USB port powered by a solar powered light cart at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The carts are part of an operational energy initiative to reduce USCENTCOM's carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. (379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs courtesy image)
Major General Edward Dorman, director for logistics, U.S. Central Command, charges a hand-held portable device from a USB port powered by a solar powered light cart at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The carts are part of an operational energy initiative to reduce USCENTCOM's carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. (379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs courtesy image)
Operational energy challenges
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar (Sept. 22, 2017) - Major General Edward Dorman, director for logistics, U.S. Central Command, charges a hand-held portable device from a USB port powered by a solar powered light cart at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The carts are part of an operational energy initiative to reduce USCENTCOM's carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. (379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs courtesy image)
Photo By: Tom Gagnier
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DITAC provides a venue where the Department of Defense, industry, academia, and innovators can collaborate and share ideas. The event allows entrepreneurs and start-ups the opportunity to showcase ideas and solutions, supporting national security and the warfighter, to a panel of subject matter experts.

Dorman’s presentation focused on the challenges and magnitude of delivering logistics support to the warfighter, while highlighting some examples of innovative initiatives in operational energy (OE) efficiencies that are currently being used to reduce logistics tails, and make forward operating bases across the USCENTCOM area of responsibility more energy and water self-reliant. 

OE is the energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations. This includes energy used by ships, aircraft, combat vehicles, tactical power generators, and expeditionary and enduring bases.

Dorman’s keynote began with a video showcasing two unique energy conversion methods currently implemented downrange; solar powered light carts and the conversion of cooking oil to biodiesel.

At Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, solar powered light carts have reduced the amount of diesel used in locations that are not connected to the grid. Over 260 of the carts have provided illumination requirements at a fraction of the cost of diesel light carts.

At Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, used cooking oil is converted to biodiesel, which is used to augment jet propellant 8 (JP8) in solid waste incinerators.

“By converting nearly 300 gallons of used cooking oil per day to biodiesel, we are able to significantly reduce waste disposal at Bagram and other contingency locations in northern Afghanistan,” said Jake Clay, OE Program Manager, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Following the video, Dorman cited several instances in history where logistics management either doomed or sustained a military operation.   

“When operational energy is ignored, our forces become restrictively tethered to energy supplies, face aging infrastructure, and are burdened with sustainment requirements that stress our logistics capacity,” said Dorman.

Dorman emphasized the scale of the USCENTCOM daily logistics challenge with actual numbers and contextual examples that stress the need for logistics effectiveness and efficiency, in terms of capability, cost and size.  

“We need to explore and invest in energy harvesting technologies including wind, solar and thermal to reduce our posture footprint, enabling a more agile and lethal force that is not tied to the tether of fuel on the battlefield,” said Dorman.

Dorman addressed logistical problem sets where industrial and academic innovation would be welcomed, and challenged the audience to collectively address them with sustainable solutions.

“Your ideas and vision are as crucial to our current and future fights as those early innovators who saw that steam could turn a wheel, and that those wheels could be placed on rails that would span the world, shattering the limitations of previous conflicts with the sheer power of their ingenuity,” said Dorman, in closing.