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27 May 14. Energy is a critical mission enabler to the Defense Department, a DOD official told a Senate panel here last week. Edward Thomas Morehouse Jr., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, testified May 21 at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee. “If you take away one thing from my testimony today, [I] hope it’s this: It’s the goal of [the Defense Department] to strengthen our military capabilities by improving how we use energy in the field, particularly reducing the burdens and risks from our energy supply lines,” Morehouse said. “Using energy more wisely will enable us to fly and sail farther, to loiter or remain on station longer, and give us supply lines that are more secure, requiring less forces, fewer lives and less money to sustain,” he added. As U.S. military forces rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, energy could present a greater concern than it has before, he said. “The vast distances, increased logistical challenges and potential adversaries are likely to have more formidable capabilities to target us with more precision and at longer range, putting our supply lines at greater risk to attack,” he explained. In determining DOD’s energy costs and how that funding would be used for fiscal year 2015, Morehouse told the Senate panel the department estimates using about 96 million barrels of fuel, at a cost of nearly $15bn. DOD also will invest $1.7bn to improve how energy is used for military operations, and about $9bn across the Five-year Defense Plan, he said, adding that 92 percent of the investment will be used to improve energy performance of weapons and military forces, and another 7 percent will be used to diversify and securing supplies of operational energy. “We’ve made a great deal of progress,” he said. “With energy and energy logistics now being incorporated into major war games, and as a mandatory performance parameter in our requirements development process, … understanding how energy affects our operations is becoming more deeply understood.” For the future of the force, DOD will continue promoting operational energy innovation and look at how global energy dynamics affect national security and shape defense missions, Morehouse told the panel. DOD also will continue to support deployed forces with energy solutions, “from rapid fielding of new technologies to adapting war plans to incorporating energy into international partnerships,” he said.
27 May 14. Australian Navy to add bio-fuel capability to vessel and aircraft fleet by 2020. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has confirmed plans to transform its existing fleet of naval vessels and aircraft into bio-fuel capable by 2020. The decision to power the naval fleet by alternative fuels is in line with the US Navy’s plans to convert its own fleet using at least a 50-50 fuel blend. Australia has been offered access to the alternative fuel technology, which is currently being developed by the US military. Furthermore, the change would support RAN’s work with the US Navy on joint operations and would see US warships and aircraft visit Australian bases more frequently. RAN is currently planning to make about 50 vessels and aircraft compatible with alternative fuels. Additionally, RAN is likely to send a bio-fuel powered frigate and helicopter to participate in the US Navy’s ‘Great Green Fleet’ demonstration. RAN rear admiral Tim Barrett was quoted by The Australian as saying: “If the US is going to do it, and if its fleet will operate with mixes of fuel, then we are going to need to be able to do the same thing. “We take fuel from them when we are operating at sea with their fleet and they take fuel from us.” Noting Australia’s current potential to develop bio-fuels as ’embryonic’, RAN said: “As the industry becom