ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 19, 2012) -- As the U.S. Army changes its energy culture through policy and new technologies, it is already fielding its next generation of streamlined operational energy systems to Afghanistan.
In August, the newest fuel-saving generators, known as Advanced Medium Mobile Power Systems, or AMMPS, were delivered to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team in Afghanistan.
But they're not arriving alone.
In fielding AMMPS, the Army's Project Manager Mobile Electric Power is also delivering a new approach to power management and power distribution as a model for the Department of Defense on how to right-size energy requirements for military operations.
The tactic includes four phases: plan, assess, equip and train. Already PM MEP completed the planning and assessment stages during the months prior to delivering the AMMPS. In August, they began shipping the equipment and in September training began.
"This approach of plan, assess, equip and train is how delivery of AMMPS should be done," said Lt. Col. Michael Foster, product manager for medium power sources at PM MEP. "This is not just 'rack and stack.' We do an assessment and look at everything that runs on power, then right-size the generator to meet the amount of power needed. We're also providing the training so Soldiers are comfortable operating the equipment."
Power distribution and power management, tailored to each location, are approached through a comprehensive assessment that includes a review of current equipment on hand, the amount and type of power required and the operational status of each power-generating system.
In August, PM MEP put three teams of five people each, including senior management, on the ground to provide operational energy solutions to six combat outposts, one patrol base and one forward operating base in support of an airborne brigade combat team with 3,500 Soldiers.
AMMPS can cut fuel consumption by as much as 21 percent across the fleet of generators, and they are 95 percent more reliable than the generators currently in use. However, if the AMMPS are not right-sized for proper power distribution, efficiency is reduced.
Cutting down on fuel consumed on the battlefield is not just a cost and energy savings, but it also reduces the number of convoys needed to supply that fuel. Since these supply convoys are often targeted by enemy attacks, taking them off the roads removes Soldiers from harm's way.
"The more reliable they are and the more efficient they are, the less fuel they burn and the less need for resupply," said Foster. "Through proper power management and power distribution, we'll demonstrate that not only are they going to save fuel, but that Soldiers will also have more reliable clean power."
When fully fielded, this new line of tactical generators is expected to save about 250,000 gallons of fuel each month in Afghanistan. With these fuel savings the Army will be able to remove 1,000 fuel tankers each year from supply convoys traveling to remote outposts.
"That's the significance of power management and power distribution," said Col. Brian Cummings, project manager for MEP. "AMMPS give combat power back to the Soldiers who can spend less time transporting fuel, maintaining generators or conducting combat operations."
At a time when the DOD is pursuing efforts to cut fuel consumption and leverage alternative energy sources, AMMPS serve as an operational energy model.
"Soldiers need power to run communications gear, weapons systems, tactical operations centers and more," said Foster. "Especially in Afghanistan, units cannot depend on clean and reliable power that operates in austere conditions; therefore, they have to take power with them. To be able to do that in an efficient way allows Soldiers to focus on combat operations instead of tactical power."
So far the effort is well received.
"The AMMPS are brand new and have arrived in OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) at the perfect time to replace the old Tactical Quiet Generators," said Chief Warrant Officer Jose Cruz, the Bravo Company, BSB, 173rd ABCT Power Generation Maintenance Officer. "The AMMPS offer less fuel consumption, and the power output does not fluctuate when a load is applied. It is a lot better than the current TQGs we have here in theater."
AMMPS, being fielded by PM MEP in partnership with the Rapid Equipping Force and the 249th Engineer Battalion, also greatly reduce maintenance costs and time. Once fully implemented, the new generators are expected to reduce maintenance manpower by 346,000 hours per year in Afghanistan. Ranging in size from 5 kilowatts to 60 kilowatts, AMMPS offer a 10 percent reduction in size and weight.
PM MEP, assigned to Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, continues to field innovative power solutions that better leverage energy efficiency and ultimately help protect Soldiers on the battlefield. As they complete the mission with the 173rd, they will shift support to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, providing a similar power generation, distribution and right-sizing power plan.