One of the 2018 National Defense Strategy goals is to build a more lethal force, including “a competitive approach to force development and a consistent, multiyear investment to restore warfighting readiness.” To achieve this goal, the Army is investing in operational energy systems and processes that extend soldiers’ range, endurance, flexibility, mobility and resilience.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment provides operational energy policy, guidance and oversight across the Army enterprise. The Operational Energy team coordinates with the other services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to optimize energy use and distribution on the battlefield.

Army Operational Energy Policy 30 Apr 2013

National Defense Strategy

The Army's updated Functional Concepts outline a future where units will be expected to operate with a high degree of dispersion in a complex and lethal battlespace for up to seven days, semi-independently from their source of supply, and at the end of contested strategic lines of communication. This requires a fundamental reduction in demand for fuel, water, and ammunition

The Army's budgetary investments in Operational Energy seek to maximize the effects of its use, striking the right balance between capability and consumption. The Army seeks to ensure that our combat vehicles have the necessary horsepower and the electrical power to enable modern combat operations, mission command and force protection systems.

Operational Energy investments provide advantages in the form of extended range and endurance, flexibility and resilience, enhanced mobility, and freedom of action. The top five Operational Energy programs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 are:

Improved Stryker Improved Stryker: A new engine, improved alternator, smart power management system, and generator accommodate current and future onboard system requirements and provide up to 4,000 watts of emergency external AC/DC power.

Improved Turbine Engine Program Improved Turbine Engine Program: This new engine for the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters will enable the aircraft to fly higher, longer, and in hotter temperatures while reducing fuel consumption by up to 25 percent and maintenance costs by up to 35 percent compared to current engines.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Joint Light Tactical Vehicle: An integrated starter/generator and high-output alternators improve stationary fuel consumption by approximately 30 percent over the baseline High-Mobility, Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), the "Humvee".

Improved Abrams Main Battle Tank Improved Abrams Main Battle Tank: An upgraded auxiliary power unit supports current and future power demands while reducing fuel consumption at low idle by 92 percent and by up to 8 percent over a combat day. Improvements to the AGT-1500 engine through the Advanced Reliability and Cost Savings (ARCS) program will reduce fuel consumption by an additional 22 percent.

Modular Fuel SystemModular Fuel System: Portable pumping and storage modules replace free-standing fabric blivets, greatly increasing the Brigade Combat Team's mobility and range while reducing the number of vehicles and personnel required to support fuel delivery.

Each year, as required by 10 USC 2926, the Army reports to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) on the portions of its budget request that support Operational Energy capabilities. The OSD in turn certifies to Congress that this budget is adequate to meet the intent of the Secretary of Defense. The Army also provides its portion of the DOD's annual report to Congress on operational energy management and the implementation of the Operational Energy Strategy, as required by 10 USC 2925.

Annual Budget Certifications Annual Reports to Congress
Fiscal Year 2017
Fiscal Year 2016
Fiscal Year 2015
Fiscal Year 2014
Fiscal Year 2013
Fiscal Year 2016
Fiscal Year 2015
Fiscal Year 2014
Fiscal Year 2013

The Army evaluates and nominates projects for the DOD Operational Energy Capabilities Improvement Fund (OECIF). The OECIF program provides funding to promising innovations that support the three goals of the Department's Operational Energy Strategy: Increase Future Warfighting Capability, Identify and Reduce Logistics and Operational Risks, and Enhance Mission Effectiveness of the Current Force.

Fiscal Year 2018 Army-sponsored OECIF programs include:

    Dismounted Warfighter Operational Energy: This program leverages the OECIF Soldier and Small Unit Operational Energy consortia (including Services, government labs, industry and academia) to identify operational energy Science & Technology gaps for future dismounted warfighter operations in the near- (5 year), mid- (6-15 years), and far-term (16+ years). The study team will assess opportunities and document the findings in a technology and investment roadmap.

    DoD Tactical Photovoltaic Test Methods Generation: This project follows existing efforts to finalize the PV test methodologies as a formal Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) Test Operating Procedure (TOP) for environmental and performance testing of photovoltaic systems. Procedures will provide a consistent and repeatable method for DoD labs to characterize tactical PV systems.

    Operationally Relevant Fuel Consumption and Range Estimates: This effort will mitigate analytic and data gaps related to mission and sustainment effectiveness, specifically reconciling operationally relevant fuel consumption and range estimates for ground vehicles from actual and simulated data capture. This knowledge gap affects all Services.

    Power and Energy Study for Electronic Warfare/Directed Energy Capabilities: The Army identified Electronic Warfare and Directed Energy (DE) systems as a priority to enable Army modernization. This effort captures power requirements for current and future C3I systems, conducts power systems analysis/modeling to optimize system design and trade-offs, and provides an energy storage development roadmap.

In order to optimize fuel supplies during combat operations, we use one common source of fuel on the battlefield. For now, that source is diesel, which powers every current Army tactical vehicle and generator. Secretary of Defense James Mattis refers to our reliance on liquid, petroleum-based fuel as the "Tether of Fuel" because we our freedom of movement is restricted by our combat formations.

A "logistics tail" ties the most forward-deployed forces all the way back to the port of entry, which increases the vulnerabilities of the port and every point between it and the supported unit. Once fuel arrives in our logistics areas, distributing it introduces additional vulnerabilities. Liquid fuel and water have comprised as much as 80 percent of the weight of ground resupply convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan. One study determined that as of 2009, just after the height of the "surge" in Iraq, more than 3,000 service members and contractors had been killed or wounded defending these convoys. Our reliance on liquid fuel is a constraint on operations and a vulnerability. Reducing the number of refueling trips reduces risk.

We can do better, and we will in the future. Reducing our reliance on a fuel source that logisticians must transport to the battlefield increases combat capabilities and saves money and lives. However, we’re a long way from alternative energy sources replacing diesel in military operations, and until we can gain access to a reliable, proven, and plentiful supply of alternative energy that can provide our tactical vehicles with power on demand, we will have to continue to rely on diesel. In the meantime, investments in Operational Energy technologies that maximize the way we use liquid fuel can help reduce risk by enabling combat formations to travel farther and fight longer without using more fuel.

The Army works with the Department of Defense and its sister services to ensure that Operational Energy policies and plans are coordinated across the enterprise.

Updated as of August 2019