Cover: Capabilities-Based Planning for Energy Security at Department of Defense Installations

Capabilities-Based Planning for Energy Security at Department of Defense Installations

Published Feb 20, 2013

by Constantine Samaras, Henry H. Willis


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Research Questions

  1. How can DoD evaluate choices to maintain adequate energy services to critical missions in the United States?
  2. How can DoD make tradeoff decisions to maintain capabilities during disruptions?

Department of Defense (DoD) installations rely on the commercial electricity grid for 99 percent of their electricity needs, but extensive energy delivery outages in 2012 have reinforced that the U.S. electricity grid is vulnerable to disruptions from natural hazards and actor-induced outages, such as physical or cyber attacks. In the event of a catastrophic disaster — such as a severe hurricane, massive earthquake, or large-scale terrorist attack — DoD installations would also serve as a base for emergency services. To enhance energy security, DoD has identified diversifying energy sources and increasing efficiency in DoD operations as critical goals. But how to enhance energy security across the portfolio of installations is not clear and several questions remain unanswered: Energy security for how long? Under what conditions? At what cost? The underlying analytical questions are, what critical capabilities do U.S. installations provide, and how can DoD maintain these capabilities during an energy services disruption in the most cost-effective manner? Answering these questions requires a systems approach that incorporates technological, economic, and operational uncertainties. Using portfolio analysis methods for assessing capability options, this paper presents a framework to evaluate choices among energy security strategies for DoD installations. This framework evaluates whether existing or proposed installation energy security strategies enhance DoD capabilities and evaluates strategy cost-effectiveness.

Key Findings

Capabilities-Based Planning Can Help in the Effort to Enhance Energy Security

  • Such an approach should incorporate threat, technological, economic, and operational uncertainties.
  • Planning under uncertainty can inform DoD energy security decisionmaking across a wide range of challenges within economic contstraints.


  • Use DoD's Joint Capability Areas as the basis for establishing metrics to evaluate installation energy security strategies, recognizing the potential need for continued refinement of the Joint Capability Areas for applications across homeland defense and homeland security.
  • Define a set of test cases for evaluating energy security strategies that span the broad range of future challenges for installation energy security, and analytically stress the test cases along the dimensions of complexity, scale, time, preparedness, and response resources.
  • Test the effectiveness of portfolios of generated technology and strategy options of providing capabilities across the test cases and their parameters, using metrics that measure the effectiveness of the provision of training, information, materiel, care, and security.
  • To plan for increased resiliency and adaptiveness, identify dimensions that would expose the potential weak points responding to the loss of installation energy services and the types of shocks that would occur.
  • Examine installation energy security and risks from both a local and an enterprise-level perspective.

This monograph results from the RAND Corporation's continuing program of self-initiated research research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND's contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers.

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