Green IT on the battlefield can save more than energy

Even back in the time of Sun Tzu, a good military leader knew that an army travels on its stomach. This applies not only to what personnel actually eat, but everything the organization consumes. From the dawn of modern warfare this list has grown to include such things as fuel and electricity. If the supply lines of a forward operating base (FOB) are cut, it can have a devastating effect on any campaign, and could end up costing lives.

For this reason, the Marine Corps and other branches of the U.S. military have begun to consider the increased use of auxiliary power units and alternate fuel sources. Recently, the Marine Corps held what it called ExFOB at the Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in California. Twelve companies were invited to come and show off their wares in this field.

One of the largest uses of fuel in the field involves the necessary use of vehicles for reconnaissance, among other things. These vehicles come chock full of devices that run on electricity, so one area the Marines are extremely interested in is high-efficiency auxiliary power that will allow personnel to use these devices without having to keep the gas-using engine on idle. If they can do this, there is no telling how much safer an FOB becomes because of the increased fuel made available.

The Marines were also looking into solar-power improvements beyond what they were already using in places like Afghanistan. Interestingly, some bases there are already self-sustaining due to advances shown at last year’s ExFOB. The more efficient photovoltaic cells and better sun-tracking equipment will no doubt make its way into the field as soon as they are ready to go.

Some past pleas to “save the planet” might have fallen on many deaf ears with the military, but arguments that these technologies save both lives and money seem to be much more persuasive. But hey, what ever works. Semper Fi!

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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