The debate about renewable energy often gets stuck in a standoff between liberal and conservatives, environmentalists and business leaders. Leave it to a retired Marine general to come up with a strategy for getting past that barrier with an argument that appeals to both sides and defends the nations long-term interests.
Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, who retired in 2011, is the former commanding general of multi-national forces in Anbar, Iraq, and now an adviser to the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research and development center for the Navy and Marine Corps. He was in Raleigh on Wednesday as part of his campaign to reduce the militarys dependence on fossil fuels.
Zilmers focus isnt on global warming, but rather on warring around the globe. Zilmer was the commanding general in Iraqs turbulent Anbar province in 2006 and 2007, and he and his troops were constantly being hit by roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. When he looked at how to reduce Marines exposure, he found that the need for fuel increased the number of convoys and enemy targets.
Zilmer is pushing for more funding and research into renewable energy that will allow troops to operate in the field without being tethered to fossil fuels supplies.
Its not about being clean. Its not about being green. Its about having a force that is lighter, more lethal and more mobile, he said during a meeting with News & Observer editors.
But first Zilmer is trying to end another battle the political polarization that obstructs solutions to fossil fuel dependence by bringing a third perspective focused on national defense