Sunday, 5 October 2008: 9:30 AM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 342AD
History has taught the US Army the significance of military operations in wet tropical climates. Since 1960, more than 75% of regional conflicts have had their roots in tropical countries. Military success in wet tropical landscapes requires that troops and equipment be capable of sustained operation in the heat, humidity, and challenging conditions presented by such environments. Thus, military equipment must be tested under harsh tropical conditions and soldiers must be trained to use equipment in this demanding environment. Implementation of the Carter-Torrijos Treaty of 1977 resulted in the US Army losing a critical capability with the closure of the Army's permanent tropic testing facilities in Panama on 1 January 2000. Anticipating this situation, a panel of multidisciplinary experts examined the Army's tropical test mission in 1999 to define the set of conditions that best provide the environmental challenges required for a continued tropical testing capability into the 21st century. After delimiting the climatic, physical, and biological characteristics that define an ideal tropical test environment and identifying 16 regions of the world that best fit the ideal specifications, a set of subsequent site-specific studies were undertaken from 2000-2007 for individual locations in Panama, Honduras, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Hawai'i, and Australia that together offer the best technical solution for providing a suite of test-specific sites. This work is a classic example of locational analysis that demonstrates the integrative nature of the geosciences and its utility for solving complex problems of military interest that typically cut across traditional academic disciplinary boundaries.