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CJCS: Air Force has 'led the way' in energy security

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lauded the Air Force for its commitment to energy security during the Pentagon Energy Security Event here Oct. 13.

"The Air Force is pushing forward, focusing on three goals of reducing demand, increasing supply through renewable and alternative sources, and changing the culture," Adm. Mike Mullen said. "For the last several years, from my perspective, the Air Force has led the way in this area."

With the event theme "Empowering Defense through Energy Security," Admiral Mullen said during his keynote address that the impact of climate change is evident, and emphasized the link between the environment and global security.

"There is a strategic imperative for us to reduce risk, improve efficiencies and preserve our freedom of action where ever we can," Admiral Mullen said. "Americans are starting to connect the dots between energy, security and our future."

Following the chairman's speech, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz joined Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli and Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra on a discussion panel to address energy awareness issues and innovations.

"We have a concerted effort underway to develop metrics so that we can, with accuracy, measure our progress, and identify where we have weaknesses and where we're excelling," General Schwartz said.

The general discussed the Air Force's pursuit of more fuel-efficient machines, citing the C-5 Galaxy engine redesign program as an example.

A fully loaded C-5, as it was formerly configured, needed to stop for refueling in Europe while en route from Dover Air Force Base, Del., to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, the general said.

"With the new engines on the airplane, it can now take off from Delaware and fly direct to Incirlik, non-stop, with the use of about a third less fuel overall," he added.

As the world's largest consumer of hydrocarbons, the Air Force increasingly is moving toward conservation and renewable energy as a "long-term imperative with near-term urgency," General Schwartz said.

Transporting fuel to areas like Afghanistan has proven expensive and dangerous, General Schwartz noted.

"We need to foster a culture that is aware that each gallon saved is a gallon not transported, and that leaves us clearly better off," he said.

(Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service, contributed to this report.)