USA: Ray Mabus Stresses Alternative Energy at Current Strategy Forum


Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus spoke on the importance of pursuing alternative energy during a keynote speech at the U.S. Naval War College’s 62nd annual Current Strategy Forum (CSF) in Newport, R.I., June 8.

Mabus discussed how the Navy and Marine Corps have made strides towards seeking alternative energy sources, but must continue to push ahead to be less reliant on fossil fuels. This challenge, he said, is a strategic issue that is important to U.S. national security.

“We use too much fossil fuel,” he said. “We have to change the way we use, produce, get energy. We have to do it strategically, we have to do it tactically.”

Every dollar rise in the price of a barrel of oil costs the Navy and Marine Corps $31 million, he said, noting that oil-price increases in fiscal year 2011 will result in a $562 million addition to the operating budget of both services – more than the cost of a littoral combat ship.

“We don’t have that money to spare. We certainly don’t have it to spare in this fiscal environment,” he said.

The reliance on fossil fuels affects the Navy and Marine Corps at the tactical level as well. He used the complex process to transport fuel to Afghanistan as a costly example, from monetary costs to manpower resources, to lives lost in attacks while providing security.

To combat this issue, the secretary issued five energy goals, one of which is to ensure at least half of all energy used by the Navy and Marine Corps will come from non-fossil fuels no later than 2020. This type of challenge, he said, is not new to services that transitioned from sails to coal-fired steam in the 19th century, switched to oil 50 years later, and then added nuclear power to the fleet in the 1950s.

“I think we’re right on the edge of another energy revolution,” Mabus said, pointing out how quickly such change happens. He compared the potential for energy developments with the recent emergence of iPads, smart phones and other devices transforming the way we communicate.

“We have the opportunity to help create the new energy future and the new energy economy for this country,” said Mabus.

In the energy arena, progress has been made, including completion of solar-power projects, energy-efficient buildings, and smart meters across the Department of the Navy.

Mabus described how private industry will play a key role in future developments in partnership with the Department of the Navy. Specific parameters, such as ensuring that energy alternatives are compatible with already existing platforms and equipment, and that any developments do not compete with food production, will need to be considered.

Because while the military can lead, it’s going to have to be industry that expands the market,” he said.

Attended by the Naval War College community and participants from throughout the country, this year’s two-day Current Strategy Forum explored the theme of “Energy and the U.S. National Security: Vulnerability and Opportunity.”

The event featured speakers from military, academia and industry, discussing the critical role of energy in international security, the current and future impact of increasing global demands on natural resources, and the related vulnerabilities and opportunities for the nation and the maritime services in a more energy constrained environment.
Source: Navy, June 10, 2011;