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Pentagon says "imperative" to go green

Oct 20, 2009 - Xinhua

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 costs.

The Army also is taking steps to reduce water consumption with a new shower-water recycling system.


Updated: 2003/07/28