Environment of Warfare


Strategic, tactical, and technological changes in military operations have occurred over the past decades, but with no equivalent change in environmental infrastructure design or operation of forward operating bases (FOBs). As recent evaluations of base camp operations indicate, the planning, design, and functionality of base camps are still done on an ad hoc basis (Mosher et al. 2008). In some ways, the U.S. Army has lost skills it once had. The primary example is field sanitation, as today's Army relies on contractor-provided support such as "port-a-potties" and environmentally controlled and/or containerized housing. If contractor support is not available, the state of the art includes "burn-out latrines," field expedient showers, and open pit burning for solid waste. The reliance on local manpower and contractors also presents a security risk and a negative impact to the local population as well. These approaches have not changed greatly since the Civil War and do not apply 21st-century technologies or capabilities, thus posing a direct threat to troops' health and well-being. In this paper, we summarize current conditions and technological approaches commonly employed at FOBs and then highlight the ongoing efforts to improve these outdated practices and cast a light on the envisioned future environmental infrastructure at FOBs.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This work developed from research funding from the Leonard Wood Institute, project LWI 281173.

Keywords and Phrases

Drinking water; Environmental planning; Site investigation; Site selection; Solid waste; Technological change; Waste disposal

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0733-9372; 1943-7870

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2011