By Cpl. Levi Schultz, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- As an ongoing effort to be the premier self-sufficient expeditionary force, the Marine Corps is striving to make itself leaner, meaner and “greener” as it takes a look at energy use across the Corps, equating the efficient use of vital resources with increased combat effectiveness.
The Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Energy Office held an Energy Capability Exercise at Camp Wilson aboard the Combat Center, Dec. 6, 2016, in alignment with the Great Green Fleet initiative, to highlight different efforts and technologies the Corps has developed to promote a more energy conscious force.
GGF is a year-long, Department of the Navy initiative that demonstrates the sea service’s efforts to transform its energy use. As one of the Secretary of the Navy’s key energy goals, the purpose of the GGF is to make our Marines and sailors better warfighters, able to go farther, stay longer and deliver more firepower.
“2016 is the year of the Great Green Fleet, highlighting the energy efficiencies in both installations and operations in the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Col. Bryan Magnuson, director, Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office. “Today, we are demonstrating operational energy technologies that allow the Marine Air Ground Task Force to go further on the same amount of energy. We have representatives out here from the office of the Secretary of Defense; the departments of the Navy, Air Force and Army; and Marine leadership to include general officers and commanders.”
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus chose the name Great Green Fleet to honor President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” which helped usher in America as a global power on the world stage at the beginning of the 20th Century. Likewise, GGF will usher in the next era of DON energy innovation.
Expanding operational energy capabilities
The Expeditionary Energy Office intends to change the way the Marine Corps employs energy and resources to increase combat effectiveness and reduce need for logistics support.
“We take a look at the Marines Corps’ future requirements and how to fulfill those requirements,” Magnuson said. “We are focused on a multitude of capability sets from vehicles, currently in use, such as the [Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement] to make it go further on the same amount of energy, as well as different commercial technologies to make [Marines] more effective.”
In order to find the best technology for the future the Marine Corps, the Expeditionary Energy Office has reached out to commercial industry through technical field demonstrations.
“We go out to industry and we say, ‘Here are our challenges, what do you have out there that can help us?’” said Capt. Michael Herendeen, science and technology analyst, Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office. “We actively search for those sorts of things. One of the challenges is to make sure what we are buying is good so we make sure Marines have hands on to test products before we invest.”
According to Magnuson, field artillery cannoneers with 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, have already put to use a Ground Renewable Expeditionary Electronics Network System, a hybrid energy power system, which utilizes solar panels and high energy density batteries to be more sustainable in a deployed environment. This has allowed them to go totally off the grid, without having to haul a large generator through arduous terrain.
“[The system] provides the same power that Marines would normally need to idle the truck for,” Herendeen said. “Instead of burning fuel to power the cannon’s computer and communication systems, we can plug it into the green system and not need to consume that fuel or cause a need for additional maintenance on the truck.”
Marine Corps Future Operating Concept
In 2012, the Commandant of the Marine Corps identified Expeditionary Energy as one of the six pillars of modernization in the Marine Corps. The Expeditionary Energy Office is working toward a Marine Expeditionary Force that can maneuver from sea and sustain command, control, communications, computer, intelligence and life support systems in place, with more efficient mobile systems requiring less liquid fuel.
“The future force is going to be much more energy intensive, so we need to understand how we use our energy,” Magnuson said. “Right now, Marines don’t know how we use our fuel other than with the E and the F gauges. When we give Marines that information, they make it possible to implement change within the MAGTF.”
In line with the Marine Corps’ Future Operating Concept, they will put things in the hands of small units to allow them to be self-sustaining in respect to energy and water so we don’t have to take on the risk and logistics of moving fuel and water around the battlefield. Marines will sustain the fight in a more distributed environment.