Computer tools for designing self-sufficient military base camps

Date

2012-08

Authors

Putnam, Nathan Hassan

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Abstract

Military Forward Operating Base Camps (FOBs) support and enable sustained military operations abroad by providing safe locations for soldiers and supporting contractors to eat, sleep, and maintain personal hygiene. FOBs need some amount of energy and water to provide these services but are often located in austere environments that do not have access to grid utilities. Off-grid FOBs are not self-sufficient; they are dependent on supply chains for the services they provide to camp occupants. The challenge of supplying FOBs with fuel and water and removing waste (resource resupply and waste removal comprise logistical requirements) is associated with very high human, monetary, strategic, and environmental costs. There are many research efforts across the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that seek to reduce FOB logistical requirements, but it is currently very difficult to identify the research efforts that are most beneficial to DoD goals. There are also many factors that make designing FOBs to be more self-sufficient challenging including varying missions, environments, and legacy equipment at currently-fielded FOBs, a lack of baseline data on FOB logistical requirements, an unclear relationship between design changes and resource use behavior, and an unclear valuation of saved resources. This research seeks to develop computer tools and contribute to a methodology that can be used to design FOBs that are more self-sufficient. More self-sufficient FOBs provide high quality services to occupants but do so with mitigated logistical requirements. To this end, a detailed computer model of specific type of FOB (a single 150-person Force Provider module) is developed, and baseline levels of resource requirements are established. Potentially resource-saving devices and other design changes are incorporated into the FOB model and simulated to assess each design change's effect on resource use and waste production. Then, estimated resource savings are weighed against required investment for each design change to arrive at design recommendations. The results of this research effort are specific design recommendations for making the Force Provider system more self-sufficient, as well as computer tools and a methodology that are applicable to other off-grid habitation redesign problems.

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