Global Military Operating Environments: Linking Natural Environments, International Security, and Military Operations (GMOE)

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DEES McDonald, Eric V 10/01/2008 - 09/30/2011 DoD - Army Research Office

Project Description

The environmental conditions and parameters used in Ary testing of material and equipment should replicate the environmental conditions that are anticipated for areas where the U.S.Army will be deployed. In particular, extreme climatic and physical factors should be incorporated into live testing protocols to ensure functionality and sustainability of vehicles and weapons systems as well as enhancing battlefield technologies.

Initial studies to characterize the environments where U.S. forces are currently operating or will potentially operate have been in progress intermittently since 1998. The U.S. Army's existing frameworks and approaches to characterize the natural environment worldwide are often outdated (most circa 1955-1980), oversimplifed, and lack integration of current scientific knowledge of critical processes that operate in global environments. Furthermore, current technology that can extensively characterize natural environments is underutilized. Science-based analysis of major global terrain environments is required to identify critical environmental variables that are the most likely to adversely impact military testing and tactical operations.

The overall scope of this multi-phase project is to characterize soil and terrain across all four major environmental systems (deserts, cold regions, tropics, temperate zones). Research activities will span comprehensive analyses of physical and chemical soil properties, with emphasis on the flux of mass and energy at the soil-atmosphere boundary. Results are critical to development and testing of technology for the identification and defeat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) through translation of surface to subsurface properties.

Soil instrumentation
Instrumented soil profile for data collection at
Master Environmental Reference Sites (MERS)
soil graphic
Environmental test bed development for buried IED detection using high frequency ground penetrating radar (GPR)

Specific Objectives

  1. Establish multiple Master Environmental Reference Sites (MERS) for comprehensive characterization of soil processes that represent common terrain conditions that are critical for military operations and testing.
  2. Initiate data analysis of the established MERS to evaluate temporal dynamics of energy fluxes under both natural and disturbed conditions in varying climatic conditions
  3. Explore techniques, methods, and results using near-surface processes that support development and testing of technologies for detection and defeat of IEDs
  4. Characterize terrain conditions at primary testing and training installations to determine terrain analogs with areas of current and future strategic interest
  5. Characterize general soil and terrain conditions for Afghanistan and other areas of strategic interest in CENTCOM
  6. Establish a military environments reference database that will collate soil and terrain data and related literature to increase availability of accurate global terrain data to the testing and training community

Global Military Operating Environments (GMOE)

Proposed Master Environmental Reference Sites (MERS)
GMOE (Domain)Ecoregion DivisionDoD Site
MERS under development (Phase 1)
  • Tropical/Subtropical Desert
  • Tropical/Subtropical Desert
  • Temperate Desert
  • YPG (2 additional stations)
  • Boulder City (NV)
  • Reno, NV
(Humid Tropical)
  • Rainforest/Tropical
  • Trainforest/Savanna
  • Panama (Cerro Tigre)
  • Hawaii (Schfield Barracks/Pohakuloa TA)
Cold Region
  • Tundra/subarctic
  • CRTC (Ft. Greeley, AK)
(Humid Temperate)
  • Subtropical
  • APG (MD)
MERS under consideration (Phase 2)
  • Tropical/Subtropical Desert
  • Tropical/Subtropical Desert
  • Tropical/Subtropical Desert
  • Temperate Steppe
  • Tropical/Subtropical Steppe
  • Owens Valle, CA (Afghan analog)
  • Anza-Borrego Desert, CA (Afghan analog)
  • White Sands MR, NM; Ft. Bliss, TX
  • Pinon Canyon MA or Fort Carson, CO
  • Ft. Hood TX
(Humid Tropical)
  • Savanna
  • Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico

world map showing environments/regions
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DRI Research: Energy balance monitoring and soil characterization in support of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and countermine detection and defeat.

Master Environmental Reference Site (MERS)

master environmental reference site schematic
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GMOE Highlight:
Soil Investigations in support of an Intelligent Munitions System (IMS)

Iraq map and terrain analogs
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