Energy-conscious military calls for energy-conscious troops

By Isabel Calamoneri
Cadet 3rd Class, AFROTC
Detachment 160, University of Georgia

In this blog post, an AFROTC cadet provides her perspective on the Army-Air Force Energy Forum that took place Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington D.C.

Winds of EnergyIn a break out session on culture change, Colonel Patrick Kumashiro, Commander, 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG), talked about four ideas that he believes are pivotal to changing our Air Force and greater military’s mindset on smarter energy use and conservation.

First, and most importantly, we have to have the right people. We need people who are informed about modern conservation technologies; we need people who are eager to move forward toward a greener force, and we need people who know people (especially rich ones). If we can create a network of resources, the attitude and almost as important, the funds needed to create this change should begin to provide a solid foundation off which to build when shaping a new, more energy-conscious military.

The second factor Col Kumashiro discussed was the importance of instilling policy that encourages or even demands greener standards of operation. Standards cannot be enforced and maintained until they have been established.

Another key player in our efforts to change the culture is education. If we lack men and women who are informed about modern conservation technologies, we lack the resources needed to develop new systems. Beyond employing scholars who focus on conservation, we need to educate Service members in ways in which they can conserve energy in their day-to-day lives. If we can instill good habits on the most basic levels (turning off lights when leaving a room, not running the water when brushing teeth, etc), we can begin to change the way people think about energy use.

Finally, we must consider from where we are receiving the funds to make tangible changes to the actual assets that we are using every day. With limited funding, it is especially important that we allocate as much money and time as is available toward making changes to the buildings, appliances, and tools that we use every day.

So, what does this mean to me? How, as an AFROTC cadet, can I apply these ideas to my little role in our military? Well, I would say that being at a big school like the University of Georgia allows me to network with all different kinds of people. I can start to make those connections with students who are going into contracting and renewable energy research and production. I can take a class or two on the importance of energy conservation and encourage my peers to do the same– awareness is the first step. While I have little control over “policy,” I can establish rules with my roommates/hallmates/housemates to be careful about leaving lights, TVs, and radios on when they leave the room; to unplug hair dryers and phone and computer chargers when not in use; to turn off the water when brushing teeth and not to run the shower until they are ready to get in it.

Additionally, I could ask that we do our best to make similar changes at the detachment in order to get cadets in the right mindset before they become officers and begin living off of the Air Force’s budget. While these changes are small, they can make a big difference in energy consumption over the years. Furthermore, if these habits are passed on to future generations and future roommates/hallmates/housemates, the breadth of culture change will begin to expand throughout the country, even beyond the military.

Photo: Two of the three wind turbines at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. face the wind coming across the high plains and push against the clouds that later dropped a few inches of snow on the base and surrounding city of Cheyenne on April 6, 2010. The larger wind turbine (right) was completed and online early in 2009 and is rated at 2 mega watts of electrical energy that goes directly into the base power grid. The other two produces a combined output of 1.3MW. From most points on the base the wind turbines can be seen. At its base, the blades make a low whoosh sound. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lance Cheung)