NAVY, MARINES TEST NEW TECHNOLOGIES
TO MAKE THE RESUPPLY PIPELINE MORE EFFICIENT
BY GIDGET FUENTES, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
A fuel convoy bearing 5,000 gallons of
fuel, piped from oilers at sea, makes its
way far inland through a dangerous battlespace to reach the tactical ground force
only to find the unit can store only 3,000
gallons. What now?
It’s a scenario top Navy and Marine Corps officials want to prevent. They want to incorporate new
energy-efficient systems, data collection and networked devices to improve logistical resupplies from
sea to shore and stretch the operational reach of
“Anything that we can do to reduce the amount of
logistics that needs to be moved, either by air or by
ground, is going to go a long way in making Marines
much more resilient, agile and keeping the tempo
that we need to fight and win in these distributed
locations throughout the battlefield,” said Capt. Mike
Herendeen, an energy analyst with the Marine Corps
Expeditionary Energy Office.
Herendeen, an artillery officer, briefed several
dozen utility executives, energy analysts, legislative
representatives and military officials at the Marine
Corps Energy Capability Exercise (CAPEX) Dec. 6. The
Marine Corps focused the demonstration on new technologies, concepts and existing products that boost
energy efficiency and reduce the number of resupplies
of fuel and materiel for Marines from the sea base to
the forward edges of the battlespace.
The goal? Get more from every gallon of fuel and
every battery recharged to extend the operational reach
of the force. The challenge? Ensure the fuel that operational forces require and other vital supplies like food
and ammunition flow efficiently from supply ships and
aircraft and across longer distances — and potentially
dangerous terrain — in the likely future dispersed
The Energy CAPEX was held at Marine Corps Air
Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.,
wrapping up the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet 2016” initiatives started by former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
It showcased several technologies in use during the
1st Marine Division’s annual “Steel Knight” live-fire
exercise simultaneously under way at the desert training base.
In the exercise scenario, a Navy and Marine Corps
amphibious force went ashore and dispersed units
inland after a near-peer enemy force threatened the
U.N.-sanctioned boundary of a U.S. ally. The operations
were being supported and sustained from the sea to
prevent the need for “a large logistical footprint — an
Iron Mountain, if you will, ashore,” Herendeen said.
Fuel, as well as water, food, ammunition and other
supplies, must be delivered and maintained at various
nodes like refueling points and airfields.
A division of 23,000 Marines operating 100 miles
inland require 80,000 gallons of fuel a day to sustain
itself, Herendeen said. Fuel powers equipment, weapons systems, tactical vehicles, transport and logistics
vehicles. The division also needs 690,000 pounds of
ammunition, 122,000 gallons of water and 116,000
pounds of food — resupplies delivered from the sea or
shore-based resupply points.
“To sustain that force, we have to move this amount
of logistics and supplies every day,” he said. “Surface
connectors … are necessary to get it to the shore, or we
need to fly it in from an expeditionary airfield.”
Military officials often note the dangers resupply
units faced in places like Iraq and Afghanistan from
roadside bombs, enemy attacks and rugged terrain.
Those dangers at times disrupted the flow of supplies
and caused shortages. Supply deliveries sometimes
were more or less than the unit needed.
To minimize risks, the Marine Corps wants more
effective and efficient means to resupply its forces.
“There is a great deal of risk that is involved if you
are going to conduct convoys on long road marches to
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