TRAVERSE CITY, MI – U.S. Department of Defense belt-tightening included in this week’s national debt-crisis resolution hasn’t yet filtered down the ranks to the DOD’s National Automotive Center.

“We haven’t seen a specific percentage yet, but we’re always asked to drive for more efficiency, and we’ve been doing that,” NAC Director Paul Skalny tells Ward’s on the sidelines of the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars here.

NAC comes under the aegis of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center based in Warren, MI.

The debt-crisis resolution includes a Department of Defense cutback of $500 billion over 10 years.

Working with the automotive and other industries, NAC is pushing to improve the fuel efficiency of the 83,000 non-tactical vehicles (cars and light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks) in U.S. military fleets.

“Most of these are standard vehicles now, but we have an initiative for electrification that includes hybrid and plug-in electrics,” Skalny says.

It’s part of a $40 million demonstrator program now under way.

During his MBS address, Skalny underscores the need for boosting fuel efficiency of combat vehicles as well.

The DOD spent $15 billion on fuel in 2010, a whopping 225% increase compared with a year ago, he says.

Put another way, every increase in a barrel of oil costs the DOD $130 million a year, Skalny says, adding “70% of the bulk tonnage (to support) a war is fuel.”