Modern armies run on fuel, as Hitler discovered to his cost.
Belatedly discovering energy as a strategic need, on 6 September NATO opened its Energy Security Center of Excellence in Vilnius, Lithuania.
In its “Energy security: a major factor in international security” press announcement about the event NATO stated, “Energy has several security-related aspects. Supply lines and increasingly interconnected critical infrastructure are frequently targeted by terrorists, computer hackers and pirates. Deployed forces need to become more energy-efficient in order to save money and reduce the environmental impact. And the growing global demand for energy and other scarce resources could lead to disputes.”
Adding a capitalist spin to the facility’s opening NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “I strongly believe that most resource issues will be settled by the power of the market, not by the power of guns. Energy security is not a call to arms. But when it comes to understanding the security implications of global resource developments, NATO must be ahead of the curve. This is not just about saving money. It’s about saving lives, and saving the environment.”
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During the inauguration ceremony Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskait? said, “Lithuania, just like other NATO countries, faces newly emerging challenges, including those in the energy sector. This poses a serious threat to economic and national security as well as to the well being of people. Lithuania has a lot of experience in this field. The NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence in Vilnius is Lithuania’s concrete contribution to supporting Smart Defense. When we stand together and join our efforts, we can turn huge projects into reality. The establishment of a NATO Center of Excellence for Energy Security also means that partners value our knowledge and expertise in energy matters as well as our ability to keep up with modern challenges.”
One minor but telling observation by Rasmussen is that NATO-led International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan are currently burning through more than four million liters of fuel per day, much of which is transported over land through areas subject to insurgent attacks.
The NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence is tasked with providing NATO members and partner countries “with assessments, recommendations and proposals for both effective and cost-efficient energy solutions to support military requirements.”
Aside from Lithuania, NATO members Estonia, France, Italy, Latvia and Turkey are also supporting the center’s activities, including the development of education and training and supporting energy security scientific, technical and academic analyses.
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Lithuania’s fervent support of the center raises an interesting question – where does its energy come from?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes simply, “Lithuania is not a notable energy producer or consumer, ranking in the bottom five among the European Union countries. Nearly all of Lithuania's energy imports originate in Russia, including crude oil and liquid fuels, natural gas, and coal.”
Unless you’re a Cold Warrior… nevermind.
In any case, in energy matters NATO is not solely focused on securing supplies in a future conflict.
NATO scientists in Norway have developed a “Goldeneye” device that utilizes an intense pulse of electromagnetic energy, which can be directed at a moving vehicle to interfere with its electrical system. “SCI-250” task group chairman Dr. Ernst Krogager said, "The ignition generates a very high intensity pulse and it will interfere with the electronic control system inside the car so the car will stop."
Good to know that NATO troops will be able to deal with suicide bombers when they undertake their next peacekeeping mission in an oil-rich troubled nation.
By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com