Cover: Integrating Operational Energy Implications into System-Level Combat Effects Modeling

Integrating Operational Energy Implications into System-Level Combat Effects Modeling

Assessing the Combat Effectiveness and Fuel Use of ABCT 2020 and Current ABCT

Published Apr 23, 2015

by Endy M. Daehner, John Matsumura, Thomas J. Herbert, Jeremy Kurz, Keith Walters


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Research Questions

  1. How much will fuel consumption grow in the future with the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) 2020?
  2. How will that growth affect the combat service support force?
  3. For the increase in combat service support force, how will combat effectiveness change for ABCT 2020?
  4. Should operational energy considerations be included in future acquisition processes?

The RAND National Defense Research Institute assessed the potential impact that fielding the five Army vehicle modernization programs would have on the operational energy requirements of combat, combat support, and combat service support forces. The modernization programs planned at the start of the research were the Ground Combat Vehicle (since cancelled), the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Paladin Integrated Management program vehicle, and the Modular Fuel System. The authors developed and applied a methodology that leveraged detailed combat effectiveness models to account for the operational energy needs associated with supporting combat missions.

RAND's methodology enables a system-level examination of the battlefield. Using this framework, one can examine both the interplay between the Blue combat force and the Red threat, and the interactions among all the elements on the battlefield, including the support force and the protection force. The team assessed the modernization programs by simulating an MCO scenario with three phases: a combat phase, a combat support phase, and a combat service support phase, examining both the operational energy needs within these phases along with the combat effectiveness of the force. The methodology developed by RAND is suitable for a range of analyses that aim to address the systemwide impact of force modernization initiatives to specifically include both logistics and combat effectiveness.

Key Findings

The Armored Brigade Combat Team in the 2020 Time Frame Will Have Higher Operational Energy Needs.

  • The estimate is that 36 percent more fuel will be needed to support a brigade-sized operation.
  • If the Bradley fighting vehicle is kept and not replaced, the estimate changes to 12 percent more fuel required.

The Combat Service Support Force Will Have to Adapt.

  • The Army will continue to reduce its force size and transition to a smaller, more agile, and modular combat force.
  • Army budgets will be constrained.
  • Competing objectives can increase the problem of meeting all demands.

Acquisition in the Future Will Have to Consider the Energy Requirements of Future Systems.

  • The Department of Defense has proposed using an energy key performance parameter and a fully burdened cost of energy analysis.


  • Other scenarios besides major combat operations, such as irregular warfare and stability operations, should be investigated.
  • Future acquisition must consider the logistics implications and the compounding effects of growing logistics requirements.
  • The methodology developed in this report should be further developed.
  • In parallel to expanding use of this methodology, new analytic tools including modeling and simulation, should be developed and tested.

This research was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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