The Pentagon plans to roll out a new slate of clean- and renewable-energy initiatives on Wednesday as part of its long-term “Operational Energy Strategy” aimed at reducing the military’s dependence on fossil fuels while increasing its front-line fighting power.
The moves are in keeping with a sustained push by the military in recent years to cut its dependence on oil, which costs the Pentagon up to $20 billion annually and has led to the deaths of thousands of troops and contractors, killed while guarding fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some renewable-energy projects at the Defense Department are already paying big dividends. Pentagon efforts to research and deploy products like hybrid batteries for tanks have enabled combat vehicles to travel farther without refueling, while advances in portable solar generation have allowed troops on the front lines in Afghanistan to power housing and electronic facilities without requiring fuel convoys to make dangerous drives through hostile territory to deliver the diesel required for traditional generators.
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It doesn’t hurt that the initiatives also tie in politically with President Obama’s unwavering support for clean energy on the campaign trail—even as Republicans continue to attack him almost daily on energy issues.