The Air Force, Army, Navy Marine Corps and the Coast Guard make up the 5 different organization of the United State Armed Forces.

Each branch has played a significant role in United States history, making them all part of the largest military in the world. Well over 1.8 million people are employed within various areas of each organization. These people or personnel use very large tactical equipment like, aircraft, ships, tanks as well as other technologies. In order to operate such large equipment on such a large scale, it becomes quite clear that within the United States military, massive amounts of energy (in many different forms) are consumed every day of operation.

While the military as a whole uses energy every day, each branch uses energy in different ways. Each branch of the military is also committed to taking a different approach to energy in order to ensure the flexibility of their resources, the protection of their people, and the protection of national security.

United States Air Force

The United States Air Force became its own branch of the military in 1947. As one of the world’s largest air forces, it also has the most advanced technologies. The United States Air Force is responsible for maintaining and providing support to surface forces as well as retrieving its personnel from the ground. With over 5,137 military aircraft, this branch of the military is given a massive annual budget to support its staff.

As a whole, the United States Air Force consumes the most energy out of all its military branches. They use about 2.5 billion gallons of fuel, which costs approximately $9 billion per year.

In order to successfully run operations, the United States Air Force requires many different kinds of energy to operate its machinery, as well as to support its staff. It is for this reason that the Air Force Energy Office takes the Air Force energy mandate very seriously. At the highest level, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy is the person responsible for taking care of the energy efforts and policies undertaken by the Air Force.

Taking a peek into the Air Force Energy Strategic Plan reveals just how important energy as a whole is to the American Air Force. This document is available online and provides information on various areas of energy.

The Air Force has four major areas of energy focus:

  1. Improve Resiliency: point out weaknesses in current energy supplies like potential natural disasters or cyber attacks. At the same time, also minimize the impact of energy supply disruptions to important missions.
  2. Reduce Demand: increase system efficiency using more reliable energy.
  3. Assure Supply: discover and implement alternative energy resources into current systems and increase availability of reliable energy.
  4. Foster an Energy Aware Culture: use training to communicate energy culture and impacts to missions.

Another area of focus for the Air Force is water. They believe that both energy and water are very closely linked to one another. The reason for this is because water is required in some way, shape or form in order to mine, produce or generate most sources of energy. It is therefore the hope of the Air Force that by generating a culture of awareness within the ranks, they will be able to successfully handle the implications of energy supply and use, as well as build and grow energy security for the nation.

United States Army

The United States Army was founded around 1775 to help fight the American Revolutionary war. This branch of the military focuses on conducting missions or operations that are based primarily on land. Energy is a critical resource for the Army due to the nature of the different operations its personnel are faced with on a daily basis. Getting energy to some of the remote areas where these major operations take place is a significant challenge.

Similar to the Air Force, the United States Army has initiatives that focus on the energy and sustainability of energy for their daily operations over the long term. The Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) formed in 2014 to help the United States Army implement more reliable and cost effective energy projects (on a large scale). The idea was to approach utilities, manufacturers, law firms, and other financiers and associations to ensure energy security and better finances.

The Net Zero Initiative is a program that utilizes the Army’s current energy practices as a strategy for managing this precious resource. The results of this initiative are to increase operating flexibility while keeping costs reasonably low.

United States Navy

The United States Navy is also one of the largest military branches in the world. With ten aircraft carriers in service and two in reserve, the three new carriers under construction will make a welcome addition to the fleet. In order to operate efficiently and within budget, the Navy follows several energy strategies that help them to continue to focus on various elements of national security.

Maintaining a strong military presence is an important strategy. However, having operations that are more energy efficient and use different kinds of energy helps to make the Navy even stronger. Investing in alternative types of power also helps the Navy maintain a level of flexibility in times where costs and supply fluctuations are apparent. Increasing energy strategies also increases the Navy’s combat capabilities, helping to send fleets out farther. Energy efficiency also helps to reduce the amount of time personnel are out on the water or road, which reduces cost and time, and ultimately saves lives. Energy efficiency improvements ensure readiness and a structure for mission success. It also decreases the dependence on fossil fuels, which creates a more sustainable model for the future of the United States military as a whole.

Energy is very important to the United States Navy for the reason that it helps their fleet perform daily operations, as well as execute critical operations that pertain to the overall safety of the nation. Currently, the Navy has five main goals or priorities that it focuses on when it comes to energy. These goals include,

  1. Alternative Energy Use – the Navy aims to increase their alternative energy use by 50% by 2020.
  2. Alternative Energy Ashore – at least 50% of shore based energy will be generated by alternative energy sources by 2020.
  3. The Great Green Fleet – By 2016 the Navy hopes to sail their Green Fleet.
  4. Non-Tactical Petroleum – reduce the amount of petroleum consumed by the commercial fleet by 50%
  5. Acquire Energy Efficient Equipment: contracts for buildings or other systems will need to meet energy efficient standards.

United States Marine Corps

At its core, the United States Marine Corps is a separate military branch that works closely with the Navy for training and other various logistic components of operations. In 2009, the Marine Corps started to focus on energy, calling it a “top priority”. Since then the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office has altered the way it looks at energy to be more effective in its missions out in the field.

The Expeditionary Energy Strategy and Implementation Plan is one of the initiatives the Marine Corps developed to outline the organization’s commitment to achieving a decreased dependency on fossil fuels. It also provides guidance for leadership and management over energy investments from “Bases to Battlefield”.

Managing energy is a critical component to the Marine Corps daily operations. The amount of energy their personnel needs once on the ground is an important element to whether or not the mission is a success. It also determines whether or not lives are lost. Today, the need for equipment that relies on electricity and batteries has grown almost 300%. While this equipment has assisted in helping the Marine Corps to excel in their jobs, it does increase the danger of keeping logistic vehicles or trains secure.

Overall, the Marine Corps vision is to be the leading, self-sufficient military branch that uses vital resources to increase how effective they are in combat situations. They plan to develop new equipment and processes that will allow their personnel to travel lighter and move faster. This will ultimately help to reduce the amount of energy consumed as well as to save more lives.

United States Coast Guard

Operating under the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Coast Guard is responsible for several maritime operations including,

  • Homeland Security
  • Search and Rescue
  • Law Enforcement
  • Environmental Protection
  • Intercostal & Offshore Aid to Investigation

The Coast Guard is committed to investigating cost effective and innovative energy options that support their missions and daily operations. The Office of Energy Management outlines a Commandant (CG-46) that determines the Coast Guard’s commitment to Resourceful Readiness. This is the organizations ability to effectively apply resources that help them to carry out missions. These resources should also have a lower financial, environmental and energy impact.

Overall, the Coast Guard has several energy policies in place. These policies outline many goals including,

  • Promotion of environmental awareness
  • Focus on solutions with high flexibility and reduction in costs
  • Hold all personnel accountable for being environmental and energy conscious
  • Execute sustainable tactics

Military Energy Initiatives – Solar Ready Vets

The United States Department of Energy runs a program through SunShot Initiatives called, Solar Ready Vets, which helps the nation’s veterans to start careers in the solar energy industry. This national program launched in 2014, and is monitored by the Solar Training and Education for Professionals funding programs as part of Obama’s initiative to train seventy-five thousand people in the industry by 2020. The types of jobs available to veterans include,

  • System Inspectors
  • System Installers
  • Solar Photovoltaic System Installers
  • Sales Representatives
  • Other Related Positions

The major priority of Solar Ready Vets is to give American veterans the opportunity to learn a new trade as a civilian up to 6 months prior to the end of their military service. The veterans are not charged for the training, nor is the military base.

Selection is based on several factors that have an affect on the program. These factors include, number of military members with a service end date, status of the solar market and the number of student the training facility can accommodate. Typically, 20 active military members participate for four to six weeks in each training group or session. The classes are practical and hands on with some option or flexibility for a combination of online and in-person classes depending on need.

Near the end of the training program, all students are required to take an exam. Once the exam is passed, there are plenty of opportunities for these students to interview with the top regional and national solar power companies in the country, for a wide range of positions.

This program is available at many military bases including:

  • Elgin Air Force Base – California (U.S. Air Force)
  • Fort Bragg – North Carolina (U.S. Air Force and Army)
  • Camp Pendleton – California (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Naval Station Norfolk – Virginia (U.S. Navy)
  • Fort Drum – New York (U.S. Army)
  • Hill Hair Force Base – Utah (U.S. Air Force)
  • Fort Carson – Colorado (U.S. Army)
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst – New Jersey (U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy)
  • Joint Base San Antonio – Texas (U.S. Air Force and Army)
  • Marine Corps Base – Hawaii (U.S. Marine Corps)