The Operational Energy Requirement

May 2, 2023  |  12:00–12:50 pm PST  |  Spanagel Hall, Room #202  — Campus Map

Mr. Cayle Bradley

Faculty Associate-Research
Energy Academic Group


The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) shifted U.S. defense priorities from contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to strategic competition with near-peer competitors and introduced the concept of Distributed Operations. This shift demanded reassessments of nearly every aspect of naval combat operations, but it was immediately clear that sustaining naval operations would be a substantial challenge.  Since the 2018 NDS, there have been several Navy strategy documents released aligning the Navy to DoN and DoD strategies. However, in the most recent unclassified strategy, the 2022 NAVPLAN, the CNO describes intent to fight forward, distributed, in all domains, integrated with the Joint Force, and in contested battlespace. He also describes intent to grow the force and add unmanned and directed energy capabilities. These imperatives compound the resupply challenge, and particularly stress the Navy’s Operational Energy network.  What is the requirement for Operational Energy? Combat operations against near-peer competitors in the near term would certainly require greater quantities of conventional fuels, and therefore additional logistics capabilities, including command and control. However, looking beyond 2035, and considering decarbonization objectives to limit climate impacts from greenhouse gas emission, alternative energy options may actually provide a more effective means to sustain combat operations, and reduce risk to the mission, our sailors, and Marines. Advances in energy storage and generation are already enabling smaller unmanned capabilities and will only increase in scale to support larger systems. Further, synthetic fuels generation could also leverage renewable energy sources and provide drop-in fuel options. Over the next 30 years these advancements will allow certain capabilities to un-tether from the conventional fuel logistic chain and expand reach and endurance across multiple domains minimizing the challenge of forward and distributed operations. Realizing that future force concept will require a force design with operation energy requirements central throughout the acquisition process.  


Cayle Bradley is a Faculty Associate for Research with the Naval Postgraduate School’s Energy Academic Group where he supports Navy research priorities in Climate and Energy. Cayle first began service to the Navy in 1999 as an enlisted Sonar Technician and served eight years active enlisted with tours on the USS Vandegrift (FFG-48) and USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG-58), and shore duty at the Naval Ocean Processing Facility, Whidbey Island. After separating, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University, graduating in 2011. He began civilian service with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division as a Naval Architect. In 2013 he completed a master’s degree in Systems Engineering with the Naval Postgraduate School, and also commissioned as an Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) qualification candidate in the Navy Reserves. While at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Cayle supported several projects including concept ship designs and customer advocate for the Virginia Program, but primarily supported the Operational Logistics program as the Systems Integration Manager for Energy Technologies on MSC ships. In late 2017, Cayle qualified as a Navy Reserve EDO, and within a few months was activated to service with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV). Cayle served a total of five years with OPNAV as Action Officer and Requirements Officer for the Navy Energy Program.
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