“Up from the ground, come a bubblin’ crude, oil that is, Black Gold, Texas Tea…”
If you grew up in the U.S. in the 1960s you can probably finish the rest of this song or at least hum a bit of it -- the opening lyrics of the then popular TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies”. I believe that this was my first exposure to the power, importance, and wealth of oil -- heck, the discovery of it by Jed Clampett was potent enough make him a millionaire and transport him and his family of Jethro, Elly May, and Granny to the warm environs of southern California complete with “... swimmin’ pools … movie stars!”
During my service with the military I’ve come to appreciate the value of energy writ large, not just oil or gas for heating, but other hydrocarbon products such as refined gasoline for powering military vehicles, aircraft and field generators, and more recently, non-traditional “green” energy sources, such as wind and solar, used to provide power to deployed, remote Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) or bases.
Indeed, Energy Security has today become a U.S. national security issue and is among NATO’s emerging security challenges. NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept charges the Alliance to “…develop the capacity to contribute to energy security, including protection of critical energy infrastructure…and contingency planning.”
In response to that charge, Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense established an “Energy Security Center” in Vilnius in January 2011. The then-U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, congratulated the Lithuanians on the launch and promised in a March 29 letter that “European Command (EUCOM) will have a team visit Vilnius in conjunction with its interagency representatives…”
Two days later I was proud to lead that EUCOM delegation to Vilnius. I travelled there with J9-hosted agency representatives from the Department of Energy and the Department of State, as well as a J9 critical infrastructure specialist. At the conclusion of our two days of meetings with our host, former Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States, Audrius Bruezga, and members of his team we brainstormed about how EUCOM could best support the innovative and embryonic center. We promised to invite our Lithuanian allies to view a EUCOM exercise, encouraged them to interact with the Business Executives for National Security (BENS, a private sector organization), and together we considered the possibility of signing an informal partnership agreement between EUCOM and the Lithuanian Energy Center.
Well, fast forward 8 months and here in Stuttgart this week we signed such a partnership agreement: a “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Energy Security Center under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania and the United States European Command.”
Rear Adm. Charlie Martoglio, our Chief of Staff, signed for EUCOM and Ambassador Bruezga, now the Director of the Lithuanian Center, signed for his government. The Lithuanian Center has also made promising contact with the BENS organization and attended our annual exercise Flexible Leader and took back to Vilnius valuable lessons, ideas and best practices.
Cooperation on Energy Security issues is in Lithuania’s and the United State’s common interests. The MOU outlines ways in which both organizations, EUCOM and the Energy Security Center, can continue to work and coordinate together. But not just common interests brought us together. Like the good judgment that oil-rich Jed Clampett often exhibited, this arrangement also makes good common sense, sense that even Jethro, with his vaunted “6th grade education”, would recognize.
Acting Director, J9-Interagency Partnering Directorate