By Summer Barkley
MAJ Thomas W. Casey, REF Team Chief, Afghanistan, briefs Frank Kendall, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; Sharon Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs; and BG Bryan G. Watson, Director, Joint Engineering Directorate, USFOR-A, on solar power platforms used in the REF’s Energy to the Edge program to provide efficient power generation systems to combatant commanders of tactical units. (U.S. Army photo by Summer Barkley.)
Cutting-edge technology and energy initiatives that bring energy-efficient power generation to forward-deployed units in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) were showcased to senior DoD personnel Jan. 8.
Members of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade’s Field Assistance in Science and Technology Center (RFAST-C) and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) were also at the demonstrations.
Frank Kendall, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, and Sharon E. Burke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, visited Camp Sabalu-Harrison at Bagram Airfield to see the first micro-grid emplaced in OEF. The micro-grid, which Burke’s office supported, is a joint venture involving Project Manager Mobile Electric Power (PM MEP) within Program Executive Office Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical; U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), RFAST-C’s higher headquarters; and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A).
The senior officials also saw several solar energy platforms that the REF uses in its Energy to the Edge initiative, providing portable energy solutions designed to operate more efficiently and to reduce fuel consumption and generator maintenance while storing excess energy to meet the energy requirements of combatant commanders in forward-operating tactical units.
After briefings on the static displays, Burke discussed the future of the micro-grid project and a new program, the Energy Initiative Proving Ground (EIPG) that will establish a quantitative baseline for energy and fuel use in expeditionary operations and will systematically evaluate the impacts of technology such as higher-efficiency environmental control units, insulating thermal tent liners, tent shades, and hybrid solar-electrical power.
The EIPG will also place a hybrid solar power system into a Village Stability Platform site for evaluation as a stable, reliable power source to reduce the fuel burden for critical command and control communication and surveillance systems.
Burke noted that the successful demonstration of the micro-grid project was uncertain after PM MEP had to recall its subject-matter expert in December. Michael J. Zalewski, RFAST-C Power and Energy Engineer, volunteered to steward Camp Sabalu-Harrison and the micro-grid to keep it operational and developed a memorandum of agreement among the RDECOM senior officer in OEF, PM MEP, and the camp mayor to share responsibilities. In the spring, primary power is slated to be run to the site, and the micro-grid will no longer be required.
Burke thanked LTC Alan C. Samuels, RFAST-C Director; U.S. Navy CDR Dane Honrado, Camp Sabalu-Harrison Life Support Area Commander; MAJ Thomas W. Casey, REF Team Chief, Afghanistan; and Zalewski for their work on energy initiatives.
- SUMMER BARKLEY is the Public Affairs Officer for 401st Army Field Support Brigade at Bagram, Afghanistan. She holds a B.A. in history from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree in public administration from Troy University. She has completed the Public Affairs Officers Course at Defense Information School.
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