Natural Security Blog: Post

The Future of the Force and DOD’s Energy Imperative

Last night, we hosted a top secret, off-the-record, “this didn’t happen” energy event with government and private sector experts who have a broad range of energy and national security expertise. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t as top secret as we’re making it out to be given the fact that we’re touting it on the blog this morning. But for the 42 of you reading this post this morning, certainly consider yourself in the know.

What follows below are some brief thoughts on the future of the military, the Department of Defense and our energy needs. We offer these points up as some food for thought as we take a step back from the event last night and go easy on the writing this morning:

We are all here because we care about energy security – finding reliably available, affordable, and sustainable supplies sufficient to meet our demand. DOD’s energy security is a more complex concept perhaps than that of the rest of the economy: our operations depend on global supply availability, adaptability for use in multiple platforms, and infrastructure resiliency. The ability of our soldiers, sailors and Marines to do their jobs is on the line. And as we were reminded last week by the news of refined fuel being smuggled from our allies in Iraq to Iran, in defiance of new U.S. sanctions, the geopolitical impacts of our current energy system often hit U.S. security and foreign policy interests particularly hard.

The Department of Defense accounts for about 80 percent of federal energy consumption, according to the Department of Energy. Of this, aviation fuel accounted for 56 percent of DOD’s energy use as of 2008, and about 80 percent of the Air Force’s energy needs. With this in mind, the future of DOD aviation and aviation fuel will play a major role in determining DOD’s energy future. Warfare 20, 30, and 40 years from now may not look like today’s wars. Likewise, the way we secure U.S. interests may not mirror today’s efforts. Preparing for this requires that we all be thinking today about how DOD will operate years down the line.
And while DOD’s energy demand is likely to change significantly over the next few decades as our defense needs change, we also face an uncertain future on the supply side. If you consider oil supplies from the United States, Canada and Mexico as reliable sources, we have a combined reserve-to-production ratio of just 15 years (PDF). Globally, it is about 46 years. Our good friends in Venezuela hold over 100 years of that reserve pool at current production rates. Obviously, the reserve part of the ratio may increase, but we can also be certain that the demand half of the ratio will increase, and likely at a faster pace. Transition beyond fossil fuels, however, may also present difficulties and require careful investments, as there are tradeoffs involved with any energy source.

This is just a teaser for our next report. That’s right folks. For our DOD Fuels project, we’ve done all of our site visits and research, and are now in heavy writing mode. This description is the landscape we see facing DOD, and it’s the foundation we’re using for our analysis. Keep your ideas rolling to us as we write, and we’ll keep giving you snapshots of our thoughts as well.

U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Science & Security Policy, Energy


Besides me, are people even

Besides me, are people even reading this blog?

Thanks visitor - we do have

Thanks visitor - we do have a large following of readers and RSS subscribers, though quiet ones who tend not to comment, unfortunately!

What you guys need are

What you guys need are proper trolls that bring in the readership, if only for entertainment, like Abu Muqawama has in his blog. Personally, I think he hires these trolls to keep his blog lively. Might be a good idea to consider.

Visitor, what they need to

Visitor, what they need to do is engage with others if they actually want people to engage with them. That means commenting at and linking to other blogs that often cover this topic. Other experts in env security circles do it, but the folks at CNAS don't. I'd be curious to hear from Christine why that is so. I do think this is unfortunate, since the Natural Security bloggers could play an important role in the emerging public debates on the nexus between climate change and energy security.

Maybe they don't understand

Maybe they don't understand the concept of a blog or about social networking (why aren't they in facebook? aren't they suppose to be reaching out to the next generation?).

The Monterey Institute of International Studies has great programs.

In fact, we do have a

In fact, we do have a facebook page! We post links to news stories, as well as links to posts by other blogs, throughout the day. Check it out: Thanks for your comments!

Alex, How often do you or

How often do you or any of the Natural Security bloggers step out of your silo and engage with actual posts or conversations taking place on blogs? Can you point to any examples?

You guys write very useful reports and provide a service with your informational links. But do you engage in any cross-dialogue on this blog or others?

Do you have twitter too?

Do you have twitter too?

Why is there no link to your

Why is there no link to your facebook page on this blog?

Why don't you have any posts

Why don't you have any posts about fungus and mushrooms?


Let's hear about Fungus!!!

So how does one go about

So how does one go about hiring trolls, then? Yeah, points well taken. Except for the fungus thing. We are most interactive via Twitter (@clparthemore, @wmrogers). I think that's just because it cuts through some of the BS. If I have to read through 20 rants about climate change not being real, and they are not new or interesting angles that add to what I'd consider real debate, I'm going to tend to move right along to something else battling for my hours. I know way more people/presences who are highly interactive on Twitter than those who actively participate in debates on blogs nowadays. I'm sure you do lose something for the short content though, so it has upsides and downsides. This hits on something we've been considering as we work on communications planning broadly for our work over the next 6 months: in what media are the best debates taking place? It's a serious question here as we think about what to do with year 2 of this blog. Thanks to all for your advice.

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