According to the U.S. Army, 70 to 80 percent of resupply weight in the theater of war consists of fuel and water. That’s a whole lot of manpower that’s not focused on the mission, and a whole lot of resources devoted to simply sustaining basic operations.
A new Army facility at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, aims to shift that resupply equation by improving efficiency in the field. This new Base Camp Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL) will give military leaders a chance to assess new systems and technologies with the potential to save fuel and water, with an eye towards applying successful strategies to operations in Afghanistan in the near future. The facility is in actuality a lab, featuring a pair of 150-person base camps — one set in a current configuration (the control group), the other set to assess new technologies.
Water, fuel and power usage will all be monitored at the SIL, with the goal of increased energy efficiency via reduced fuel usage and uses for reclaimed shower water. Another benefit: soldiers stationed at Fort Deven will also have the opportunity to experience life in a realistic, “Force Provider” base camp (which, incidentally, folds up and fits neatly within a single C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, and can be set up in theater of war in less than four hours).
Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, Plans and Programs, pointed out, in a statement, that increased efficiency is not just a matter of fiduciary responsibility for the Army, but a matter of protecting the troops. “As a military, our capabilities are more and more energy dependent, so it’s taking more fuel to do what we have to do,” she said. “We’ve got to move all that fuel, and it’s a target.”