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Operational Energy

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DAU GLOSSARY DEFINITION

Alternate Definition

Operational energy is energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations, and includes energy used by ships, aircraft, combat vehicles, and tactical power generators.

General Information

GENERAL INFORMATION

Energy is a fundamental enabler of military capability, and the ability of the United States to project and sustain the power necessary for defense depends on the assured delivery of this energy. It must be available at home and abroad, over great distances, through adverse weather, and across air, land, and sea, often against determined adversaries.

10 U.S. Code section 2924 defines Operational Energy (OE) as the energy required for training, moving, and sustaining military forces and weapons platforms for military operations. The term includes energy used by tactical power systems, generators, and weapons platforms.  In FY22, the DoD consumed over 73 million barrels of fuel to support worldwide operations and training. Reflecting the Department’s worldwide operating footprint, 48% of this energy was purchased outside of the U.S.

The term "operational energy" includes energy used by tactical power systems and generators, as well as by weapons platforms themselves. The DoD considers operational energy to be the energy used in military operations, in direct support of military operations, and in training that supports unit readiness for military operations, to include the energy used at non-enduring locations (contingency bases). Traditionally, the scope of operational energy excludes nuclear energy used for the propulsion of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines, as well as the energy used for military space launch and operations.

Oversight of Department operational energy activities rests within the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment (ASD EI&E) who is responsible for overall supervision of matters relating to energy, installations, and the environment for DoD. The ASD EI&E supports the Secretary in ensuring the readiness of the armed forces for their military missions by pursuing energy security and energy resilience (10 U.S.C. 2911) and ensuring the types, availability, and use of operational energy promote the readiness of the armed forces for their military missions in contested logistics environments (10 U.S.C. 2926).

To fulfill these statutory drivers, the DoD issued its new Operational Energy Strategy in May 2023. Through the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience (ODASD E&ER), the Department will pursue the following four lines of effort:

  • Energy Demand Reduction
  • Energy Substitution and Diversification
  • Supply Chain Resilience
  • Enterprise-wide Energy Visibility
  • Strategy Enablers

Key initiatives along these lines of effort include implementation of the:

  • Contested Logistics Working Group (per FY22 NDAA)
  • 2023 DoD Operational Energy Strategy
  • Operational Energy related aspects in the DoD Climate Adaptation Plan

Oversight of Department operational energy activities rests within the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment (ASD EI&E) who is responsible for overall supervision of matters relating to energy, installations, and the environment for DoD. The ASD EI&E supports the Secretary in ensuring the readiness of the armed forces for their military missions by pursuing energy security and energy resilience (10 U.S.C. 2911) and ensuring the types, availability, and use of operational energy promote the readiness of the armed forces for their military missions in contested logistics environments (10 U.S.C. 2926). 

For additional information refer to the ASD EI&E Operational Energy site.  Per 10 USC 2925, the DoD is required to submit annual energy management reports. These include information on operational energy demands, progress in implementing the Operational Energy Strategy, investments in alternative fuels, and support to contingency operations. Various Operational Energy reports dating back to 2011 can be found on the same site.