“I believe right now that energy is a vulnerability and constraint on our deployed forces,” said Department of Defense nominee and CNAS Vice President Sharon Burke
yesterday morning at her confirmation hearing
before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee. She described the tremendous cost—in lives, capital, and operational flexibility—of meeting the current fuel needs of troops in Afghanistan. Leading DOD’s efforts to account for the “full cost and full burden of energy
,” she said, will be one of her priorities if she is confirmed.
“The committee and Congress have shown an acute interest in operational energy by creating this position,” said Burke, who would be the first person to serve as Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs
(DOEPP). “Sharon Burke has a deep understanding of the energy and climate change challenges facing the Department of Defense,” according to Geoff Dabelko, director of the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program. “She would be able to hit the ground running if confirmed.”
Burke said that previous Congressional and presidential mandates have pushed DOD to improve the energy posture of its domestic facilities. She hopes to achieve similar successes in the operational arena. While she was reluctant to privilege any single solution, she suggested that more efficient weapon platforms and tactical vehicles, alternative fuels, and better business and acquisition processes could all be part of the mixture.
In response to a question from Senator Chambliss (R-GA) about climate change, Burke said, “I think the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) does a very good job laying out the proper role of the military forces.” The Wilson Center recently hosted a panel discussion on the QDR and the UK Defence Green Paper, at which the speakers repeatedly referred to the future DOEPP.
The nomination hearing largely avoided any tension concerning climate science and mitigation policies, focusing instead on military operations and ensuring the maximum effectiveness of U.S. forces. “My top priority would be mission-effectiveness,” Burke said. E&E; News reports Burke is expected to be confirmed.
Photo: Sharon Burke courtesy CNAS.