Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM
HYDROGEOLOGICAL SUPPORT TO UNITED STATES MILITARY OPERATIONS DURING THE PAST 100 YEARS
Over the past 100 years, hydrogeology has played a role in most military operations undertaken by the US military. The first significant application by US forces took place during World War I, on the Western Front, to deal with problems of water supply and excavation of earthworks. Several members of the US Geological Survey (USGS) Ground Water Division, to include O.E. Meinzer, joined the armed forces to serve as water-supply geologists. 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. Civilian hydrogeologists evaluated groundwater supplies as part of terrain analysis studies, while many uniformed hydrogeologists commanded water supply companies that drilled hundreds of wells in North Africa and Europe. During the Cold War, the USGS 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.