ARLINGTON, Virginia --
During the last 13 years spent fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marine Corps has focused on its combat effectiveness and shear lethality.
Improving tactics on an unconventional battlefield against an insurgency forged a new and better Corps, but required a lot of energy to fuel.
“The weapons systems we now use have more armor, we have more communications capabilities, we have more computing capabilities and it’s all at a price of more energy,” said Col. James Caley, Director of the Expeditionary Energy Office, Headquarters Marine Corps. “Vehicles got heavier, and that increased armor and that increased capability came at a significant cost to the Marine Corps.”
Through adaptation, the Marine Corps has created better equipment and vehicles, keeping Marines alive and helping them win battles.
The Marine Corps consumed more than 200,000 gallons of fuel per day during combat operations in Afghanistan. More than 100 forward operating bases in Afghanistan during the peak of conflict required a minimum of 300 gallons of diesel fuel daily.
During more than a decade of combat, 52 percent of casualties were directly related to upholding lines of communication and running for resupply.
“So reducing fuel requirements is an issue of reducing the logistics required to support the battlefield, increasing the effectiveness of those infantrymen, those artillerymen and those tank drivers,” Caley said. “If we can reduce that number of casualties simply by reducing the amount of fuel we’re pushing up the battlefield, that’s great.”
Reducing the overall energy consumption of the Corps may save lives and leave money for training exercises and operations. The Expeditionary Energy Office at Headquarters Marine Corps has been developing alternative energy technologies and policies for years.
“It comes down to not idling your truck in the motor pool for an hour before you go out on convoy,” Caley said. “It comes down to making the decision to optimize what we’re putting into the generators, so that we really run the generators to the maximum extent possible as opposed to wasting the fuel.”
Reserving fuel is focused on increasing the combat readiness of troops and decreasing the logistics required for them to operate.
“I want the Marine Corps to measure its effectiveness in how many bad guys we kill and how many of their toys we can break,” Caley said.
Adapting to future conflicts and wars is largely reliant on mastering energy and wisely using it.
“[Marines] should care because it’s their buddy that’s dying,” said Caley. “So, when we’re talking about bringing equipment and personnel up the battlefield, we’re not talking about some random person out there that happens to die delivering fuel to you. We’re talking about someone that wears this uniform where it says U.S. Marines over their heart.”