A lean, mean fighting machine - that's the old expression. But by embracing new energy technologies, the U.S. military is aiming to be a lean, mean and green fighting machine.
And according to a top U.S. Department of Defense official, staying at cleantech's cutting edge will not only aid our fighting men and women, but also help propel the nation's economy.
New energy technologies "boost the competitiveness of American industry, and they raise our nation's overall energy efficiency," Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said in a keynote speech at the recent Army and Air Force Energy Forum, the department reported.
The Defense Department's role in the nation's energy future becomes obvious when you consider that it accounts for 80 percent of the federal government's energy use and about 1 percent of the nation's.
And even though the military is using less energy - just last month we reported that, according to a Pike Research study, Defense Department energy consumption was down 60 percent over the past 25 years - supporting operations is driving the cost up, Lynn said.
A key way the Pentagon is looking to save money and improve energy efficiency is by factoring energy use into new acquisitions. The Marine Corps pioneered that approach this year in developing a new surveillance system, Lynn said, and the Army and the Air Force have a number of fuel-saving systems in development, including turbines and a hybrid ground vehicle.
Lynn said seizing new developments in energy has always been a key to giving the U.S. military an edge.
He pointed to the shift from wind to coal in the 19th century, which revolutionized naval power, and to the move in the second half of the 20th century toward nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.
"Our mastery of energy technology both enabled our nation to emerge as a great power, and gave us a strategic edge in the Cold War," he said.