The US Army is evaluating 60 new technologies to help reduce fuel and water usage at forward operating bases (FOBs), as part of efforts to lower the number of convoys and hours soldiers are exposed to threats.
Validated as part of the Army's Sustainability Logistics Basing-Science and Technology Objective Demonstration, the technologies include a system that pulls drinking water from the air, a nanogrid power management system, bidirectional onboard vehicle power systems and shading systems to reduce the amount of power required to cool shelters.
Ben Campbell of the US Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering (RD&E) Center said: "Our initial analysis in one base camp scenario we had set up was almost a half a million soldier threat exposure hours we are able to eliminate in a 180-day base camp scenario."
Campell stated that the army is seeking to reduce fuel resupply to FOBs by 25%, water resupply by 75%, and lower waste generation and waste backhaul by 50%.
The 60 technologies being developed are designed to support the army's goals, and are claimed to have proven successful in one of the service's most primary goals of keeping soldiers away from danger.
The water-saving, energy-saving, and waste-reduction technology aims to reduce the need for soldiers to bring those things to a FOB through a convoy, among other things.
According to Campbell, reduction in the logistical support requirements for an installation allows it to be moved farther away from a logistics supply base and closer to the theatre of operations.
Campbell said: "The more self-sufficient you can make the base camp, the more independent they can be.
"And it's reducing soldier threat exposure hours; saving soldier lives by being able to eliminate truck convoys. That's why soldiers should care. It's a force enabler."
Campbell's team has already evaluated a new energy efficient kitchen concept that feeds 80 soldiers three meals a day during a demonstration at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks.
In July, the team aims to conduct another evaluation at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, outfitting one of two 150-person base camps with its technology to evaluate its effectiveness.
Additional technologies being tested by the team include methods to recycle waste water, burn trash to create energy, and a system that enables a tactical vehicle to be used to provide power to an installation until the arrival of generators.
Image: US Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center source Ben Campbell demonstrates a small model of an Army base camp. Photo: courtesy of US Army.