Fmr. CPT Sarah Nielson

sarah barbo

“My job in the Army was to keep soldiers healthy and in the fight by conducting base camp inspections—everything from testing water supplies and monitoring air and soil quality to inspecting food and trapping mosquitoes. For a year, I traveled across southern Iraq to everywhere we had soldiers living and operating. I saw large forward operating bases with Burger Kings and bottled water plants as well as tiny contingency bases with military rations and drinking water trucked in.

What I grew to appreciate was the myriad of ways every outpost, large to small, was solving the same basic development needs: how to manage finite resources to ensure clean water, food, shelter, and access to fuel.

Fuel was an enormous part of the mission. On the one hand, fuel spills caused huge environmental and diplomatic problems, as we worked to remediate the soil and hand bases back over to our Iraqi allies. On the other hand, we utterly relied on energy for combat vehicles, radios, navigation systems, and medical equipment. It was truly a matter of life or death.

At home, you only must go through one power outage to appreciate that our reliance on energy is just as true here. The energy grid enables our connected and civilized way of life, just as fuel sources enable military missions abroad. So it only follows that we should aim to make our energy infrastructure as secure and sustainable as possible.

I joined Operation Free because our country needs a voice for pragmatic and sustainable solutions to energy security and climate change. This is one of the top issues of our time. And, it is solvable—we can find innovative solutions and build a 21st century energy system that improves our military capabilities, strengthens our economy, and reinforces America’s critical infrastructure.”

Views expressed are her own.

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