Hydrogeological support to United States military operations, 1917–2010
Over the past 100 years, hydrogeology has played a role in most military operations undertaken by the USA. The first significant application by US forces took place during World War I, on the Western Front. America's entry into World War II highlighted the need for military hydrogeologists once again, and a combination of civilian and uniformed hydrogeologists provided valuable support to the war effort, notably by terrain analysis. During the Cold War, the United States Geological Survey Military Geology Branch conducted military hydrogeological studies, and in 1985 the US Army Corps of Engineers created the Water Detection Response Team (WDRT) to provide hydrogeological expertise to military well-drilling units. During the Persian Gulf War of 1990–1991, groundwater was important for sustaining troops living in the northern Saudi Arabian desert. Operations in Bosnia and Kosovo later in that decade required the assistance of the WDRT in obtaining adequate groundwater supplies for base camps. Current military operations in Afghanistan rely on groundwater as a significant source for most US bases. In combination, uniformed and civilian geologists serving in a variety of roles to support American troops have located water supplies essential to the success of US military operations around the globe.
Figures & Tables
This book, generated under the auspices of the Geological Society of London’s History of Geology and Hydrogeological Groups, contains 20 papers from authors in the UK, USA, Germany and Austria. Historically, it gives examples of the influence of groundwater on battlefield tactics and fortress construction; describes how groundwater was developed for water supply and overcome as an obstacle to military engineering and cross-country vehicular movement by both sides in World Wars I and II; and culminates with examples of the application of hydrogeology to site boreholes in recent conflicts, notably in Afghanistan. Examples of current research described include hydrological model development; the impact of variations in soil moisture on explosive threat detection and cross-country vehicle mobility; contamination arising from defence sites and its remediation; privatization of water supplies; and the equitable allocation of resources derived from an international transboundary aquifer.