Pentagon: renewable energy means (military) power

Energy has become a 'guns or butter' dilemma for the U.S. military. A senior Pentagon official today said that the U.S. military's ability to project its power overseas is tied to managing energy consumption and developing renewable power sources.

The Air Force has flight tested a A-10C Thunderbolt II on a biofuel blend.

The advancement of renewable energy technologies is now a vital strategic interest of the U.S. military, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said in a speech today.

Reducing the military’s dependence on fossil fuel sources is correlated with its ability to project power overseas, Lynn said. The secretary explained that an energy strategy must become a “fundamental part” of military planning, according to UPI.

The U.S. military’s involvement in several long-term engagements has made fuel management an important consideration in the Pentagon's war planning, Lynn noted. He also called for increased energy conservation in military operations.

The secretary highlighted the military’s recent biofuel and solar pilot projects. In March 2010, the U.S. Air Force launched an A-10C Thunderbolt II fighter plane that was powered by a biofuel blend. The flight was considered a success.

The reasoning behind the test flights is obvious: The Air Force alone burns 2.4 billion gallons of jet fuel every year. It can either spend its resources on fuel or fighting wars - think of its as a 'guns and butter' argument, but affecting the military.

Marines in Afghanistan have been innovating the use of solar technologies in the Central Asian theater. One unit of Marines is now functioning entirely on solar power that is used to charge radio batteries during long patrols, lighting for tents at night, and lowering the fuel requirements of mobile command centers.

In January, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an appropriations bill requiring the military to buy only American made solar panels. Lawmakers added the provision over concerns that China unfairly subsidizes its renewable energy industries.

Related on SmartPlanet:

Uncle Sam orders military to buy American

U.S. Military brings solar power to its front lines

Fighter jet takes to the sky with biofuel blend

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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