You have the power to enhance energy security

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Hornitschek
  • 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander
October is DoD Energy Awareness Month. What does energy look like? For many of us the image of a barrel of oil or a power line connected to a hydroelectric dam might come to mind, but in most cases energy exists as an abstraction that is difficult to physically observe. 

What we can easily see, however, are the benefits of putting it to work: a C-17 lifting off of the runway, clean drinking water pumped from our wells, fresh and ample food in the commissary, a POV passing through the gate to get to or from work, or a computer logged into that network of human experience we call the Internet. Eliminate energy, and you eliminate modern life. 

Airmen need a lens to properly view the impact of energy dependencies on our mission and very existence. It is fundamentally impossible to field today's Air Force without consuming incredibly large amounts of energy. In 2007, our Air Force burned approximately 7 million gallons of jet fuel a day, making it the largest user in all of DoD, which in turn is the largest institutional consumer of energy on the planet. 

The price we pay for the lifeblood of our institution is enormous: $5.6 billion for JP8 (jet fuel) in fiscal year 2007, $6.9 billion in total for all forms of energy. These large numbers may also seem like abstractions, until one converts energy expenses into real opportunity costs. For example, when the price of a barrel of oil increases by $1, the annual Air Force energy bill also increases by $60 million --money that must be diverted from other accounts. For perspective, the total McChord fiscal year 2008 operations and maintenance (O&M) budget was $72 million; and the price tag of a new base gym: approximately $25 million, or the equivalent of a mere 42-cent price change in a barrel of oil. 

The Air Force Energy Strategy is to Reduce Demand, Increase Supply, and Change the Culture so that we can Secure Today's Energy and Fuel Tomorrow's Mission. As a Service, the Air Force is a recognized international military leader in proactive energy security activity. To learn more visit

October Energy Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to launch a first-of-its-kind, all-volunteer local McChord Energy Club designed for Airmen with a serious interest in energy security. Meeting on the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 4:45 to 6 p.m. in the Wing Conference Room, Bldg. 100, the club's purpose is to leverage education to change the culture of energy awareness. 

Via an open discussion format, participants will mutually learn and teach how to enhance energy security in their workplace and community. The first meeting of each month will be dedicated to identifying practical energy security measures for McChord AFB and our community, while the second will be reserved to discuss the strategic issues surrounding energy security for our nation. Both sessions are designed to create an energy epiphany in support of the Air Force's vision to "Make Energy a Consideration in All We Do". 

Mark your calendar for our inaugural energy leadership session on Oct. 30 at 4:45 p.m., and feel free to correspond with interest/inputs at We promise to leave a fluorescent light on for you -- see you then!