Army’s micro-grid for combat zones

Alex Chadwick, BURN Host

An unlikely energy innovator – the US Army – is preparing to deploy a radically redesigned combat outpost featuring a smart micro-grid. COPs are basic military camp for about 100 soldiers. They need to function like small communities – with water, sanitation, food, and power.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying these units with fuel and water became the single greatest point of vulnerability. The new COPs cut fuel demand by at least 50%, which means fewer caravans, and fewer casualties.

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Today’s Army – the march toward better batteries

REF generators for site

A series of diesel generators on a mini-grid power a Combat Outpost at Ft. Bliss. REF is working on better, lighter ways to bring power to soldiers based around the world. (Alex Chadwick/Burn)


The U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force – REF for short – is a little-known agency making big changes in how soldiers fight. It was created after an officer saw a video of soldiers trying to clear an Afghan cave with a rope and grappling hook – why not robots, he wondered?

That was 10 years ago, and as BURN host Alex Chadwick reports, since then REF has become an innovator in many fields, including energy.

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