By J.E. “Jack” Surash, P.E., M.SAME  

Energy is key to everything the military does, and U.S. Army facilities are the largest consumers of electricity in the federal government. In FY2016 alone, the Army spent over $1.1 billion on facilities energy.

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy & Sustainability) works with a range of public and private entities to promote energy security and resiliency on Army installations, including private industry, utilities, public utility commissions and local communities. Across its installations, the Army works to assure access to energy, water and land resources through innovation, increased efficiencies, reduced demand, new power storage solutions and the development of diversified alternative and renewable energy systems.

Today’s Army continues to take an increasingly proactive approach to resource management by implementing ongoing programs and initiatives to ensure the Army improves its energy security and resiliency posture. The service is making substantial progress on this front, particularly with respect to energy security and resiliency on its installations.


The Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy (ES² Strategy) represents a turning point. The Army is evolving from a historic view of resource considerations as constraints on operational effectiveness to today’s perspective, where energy, water and land resources are considered mission enablers. This strategy focuses on building a more adaptable and resilient force, one that is prepared for a future defined by complexity, uncertainty, adversity and rapid change.

The ES² Strategy envisions a ready and resilient Army that is strengthened by secure access to energy, water and land resources in order to preserve future choice in a rapidly changing world. The strategy aims to enhance the resiliency of installations through implementing five key goals.

Inform Decisions. Leverage Army culture to use resources wisely, improve mission effectiveness and preserve future choice.

Optimize Use. Minimize demand and increase efficiency and recovery to maximize resource and mission effectiveness for systems, installations, and operations.

Assure Access. Provide reliable access to energy, water and land resources and protect delivery mechanisms to mission-essential functions and applications, both domestically and to contingency bases abroad during operational deployments.

Build Resiliency. Advance the capability for systems, installations, personnel and units to be able to respond to unforeseen disruptions and quickly recover while continuing critical activities.

Drive Innovation. Identify new concepts; develop, test and field new processes and technologies; and institutionalize and communicate best practices to maximize resource effectiveness.


In support of the ES² Strategy, the Army recently published the Installation Energy and Water Security Policy (Army Directive 2017-07), which both highlights the principles outlined in the strategy and conveys the critical importance of energy and water security within the Army. The directive establishes that the Army must prioritize energy and water security requirements to ensure available, reliable, and quality power and water to continuously sustain critical missions.

The policy is divided into two components: “secure critical missions” and “sustain all missions.”

Secure Critical Missions: “The Army will reduce risk to critical missions by being capable of providing necessary energy and water for a minimum of 14 days.”

Sustain All Missions: “The Army will improve resilience at installations, including planning for restoration of degraded energy and water systems and reducing risks of future disruptions, by addressing the following attributes: assured access to resource supply, reliable infrastructure condition and effective system operations.”

To support this directive, the Army is now developing business rules for defining and assessing energy and water security risks and for prioritizing mitigation actions within existing authorities and programs.

Army Energy Security & Sustainability Image

The service also is reviewing resources to address gaps in critical energy and water security requirements. Commands at all levels are setting energy and water security requirements to ensure available, reliable and quality power and water to continuously sustain critical missions.


The Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) plays a crucial role in implementing the principles of the ES² Strategy and the requirements of the new Army directive.

The Army OEI projects portfolio accounts for more than 300-MW of energy production. OEI projects currently in development represent an additional 200-MW of potential production. In June 2017, OEI cut the ribbon on a 65-MW hybrid solar and wind energy project at Fort Hood, Texas. This is the Army’s first hybrid project and the largest renewable energy project in its history.

In addition to bringing large-scale alternative and renewable energy generation to Army installations, OEI seeks to create “islandable” capabilities for its projects. An islandable project combines on-site energy generation with energy storage and control systems, which enables the direct routing of electricity to essential requirements in the event of a grid disruption or other power emergencies.

October is Energy Action Month, a federal government program that highlights how important energy is to everything we do and brings visibility to the government’s sustainability and energy efficiency efforts.

The Departments of Energy and Defense adopted the observance of Energy Action Month and the services actively participate and support the effort. Activities are designed to raise awareness, share best practices, and identify innovative ways to increase our nation’s energy efficiency.

To this end, the Army recently announced the development of a solar array with the Army’s first privately funded, commercially available, and economically viable battery energy storage system. The selected developer will develop, finance, install, own, and maintain the 10-MW solar array with a 1-MW/2-MWh battery energy storage system.


Continuing to work with industry, utilities, public utility commissions and other stakeholders to improve the Army’s energy and sustainability posture is key to success. As long as energy supply shortfalls and power distribution failures remain a strategic vulnerability, whether caused by acts of man or acts of nature, the Army will focus its energy and water programs and investments on resiliency and security.

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Energy & Sustainability) looks forward to ongoing collaboration with the teams at the greater Army staff, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army National Guard Bureau, U.S. Army Reserve Command, all Army installations, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other military services and government agencies to continue to improve the Army’s energy and sustainability capabilities.

With these initiatives and programs, and ongoing collaboration and teamwork, the Army will continue to bolster its energy security and resiliency posture—ensuring that our soldiers are always ready and equipped to perform their mission.

J.E. “Jack” Surash, P.E., M.SAME, is Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy & Sustainability

[Article originally appeared in the September-October issue of The Military Engineer.]