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'Military Geoscience': Desert dust storms, environmental security, and DOD bioreserves

Boulder, CO, USA - Military Geosciences in the Twenty-First Century, new to GSA's Reviews in Engineering Geology series, covers a wide swath of topics, including environmental security, location considerations for U.S. military bases, dust storms and the 1980 Iran hostage rescue attempt, the hydrogeology of Afghanistan and its impact on military operations, and U.S. military installations as bioreserves. The final chapter addresses a unique question: If a bomb drops in the desert, do we still call it wilderness?

Military geosciences are concerned with using the earth sciences for military purposes. These purposes range from direct support for military operations to a broad spectrum of noncombat military activities and military land management applications. The eighteen chapters in this volume address the critical aspects of the role of geosciences in military undertakings by focusing on historical perspectives, geoscience for military operations, and military environmental stewardship.

Edited by Russell S. Harmon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center and Sophie E. Baker and Eric V. McDonald of the Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Desert Research Institute, this new book from The Geological Society of America gives readers a compelling look into a world not all are privy to.

One chapter provides a case study from Fort Hood, Texas, USA, "to illustrate the characteristics of military installations that fit the model of bioreserves as areas for conservation of biological resources and processes in the context of human use of the environment" (T.J. Hayden, p. 101).

Another chapter discusses how a dust storm contributed to the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, the 1980 Iran hostage rescue attempt. Author J.P. Henderson reports that rescue pilots had been advised to expect clear weather and that "the dust storm caused confusion, slowed the helicopters, and greatly increased pilot fatigue" (p. 49).

The book's final chapter points out that "the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) harbors more rare, threatened, and endangered species on its lands than any other landowner," and asks, "does wilderness exist on military installations?" (p. 205). Author M. Cablk notes that her paper is intended to generate controversy, and by way of that, discussion and a challenge to conventional thinking about landscapes.


Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

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'Military Geoscience': Desert dust storms, environmental security, and DOD bioreserves
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