Mobile Nuclear Power Plants for Ground Operations
HQDA G-4 Future Operations and Strategy WASHINGTON United States
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This study was commissioned by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff DCS, G-4 to analyze the potential benefits and challenges of mobile nuclear power plants MNPPs with very small modular reactor vSMR technology and to address the broader operational and strategic implications of energy delivery and management. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics released the Defense Science Board DSB Task Force final report on Energy Systems for ForwardRemote Operating Bases in 2016. The DSB observed that energy is, and will remain, a critical enabling component of military operations, with demand continuing to increase over time. This study supports the DSBs recommendations and considers the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legalregulatory PESTEL factors associated with a future, near-term decision involving the deployment and employment of MNPPs. Employment of mobile nuclear power is consistent with the new geopolitical landscape and priorities outlined in the US National Security Strategy NSS and the 2018 National Defense Strategy focusing on China and Russia as the principal priorities for the U.S. Department of Defense DOD. The Army recognizes the fundamental change in the character of warfare with a confluence of evolving threats and an increasing technology sophistication of our adversaries spanning the competition continuum, as opposed to the obsolete peacewar binary. This study finds that as a technical matter, nuclear power can reduce supply vulnerabilities and operating costs while providing a sustainable option for reducing petroleum demand and focusing fuel forward to support Combatant Commander CCDR priorities and maneuver in multi-domain operations MDO. Energy is a cross-cutting enabler of military power and nuclear fuel provides the densest form of energy able to generate the electrical power necessary at forward and remote locations without the need for continuous fuel resupply.