U.S. Defense Department on Wednesday convened its first
energy security forum, with Mike Mullen, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying the U.S. military has
a "strategic imperative" in environmental conservation.
As military and civilian service leaders gathered at
the Pentagon to discuss plans for energy conservation,
Mullen told them going green is "a strategic imperative
for us to reduce risk, improve efficiencies, and preserve
our freedom of action whenever we can."
Mullen made the comments at the Pentagon as part of
his keynote address at the Defense Department's first
energy security forum. The forum included panel discussions
by military leaders and department officials, and showcased
the services' environmental innovations.
There is evidence around the world of the impact of
climate change, such as melting polar ice caps which
are "rerouting the geopolitical maps of the world," Mullen
said, and Americans are beginning to see the links between
the environment and global security.
The Defense Department relies heavily on fossil fuel.
It uses about 300,000 barrels of oil each day, and fossil
fuels are the No. 1 import into Afghanistan. The delivery
of fuel and other petroleum products there provides an
inviting target for insurgents who attack supply convoys,
injuring and killing servicemembers, Mullen noted.
The point is echoed by other military leaders. Navy
Secretary Ray Mabus said the military and the country "rely
too much on fossil fuels ... (and) too much of our oil
comes from volatile places," and "energy policy
can be used as a weapon."
The military services and combatant commands have been
working some time now to reduce their use of fossil fuels,
especially in Afghanistan and Iraq where transporting
fuel is dangerous and expensive. According to Mullen,
The Navy is on track to cut non- tactical petroleum use
in half by 2015; the Air Force is reducing demand and
increasing renewable and alternative fuels; Marines from
Camp Pendleton, Calif., deployed to Afghanistan with
solar- powered generators; and soldiers from Fort Irwin,
Calif., recently deployed with insulated-foam tents that
save millions of dollars per month in air conditioning
The Army also is taking steps to reduce water consumption
with a new shower-water recycling system.