5 Surprising Trends in Military Housing

Housing on military bases has typically been considered basic and utilitarian. In recent years, however, members of the armed services have had access to a wider array of choices in military housing. Green-friendly features and planned communities that incorporate playgrounds, green spaces and other desirable amenities have become more common throughout the military community and offer significant advantages for families housed in these areas. Here are five of the hottest trends for military housing.

Green Design Choices

In 2006, the Department of the Army issued a memorandum that requires all new construction on military bases to achieve silver status under LEED certification rules. As a result, many new homes on military bases include green-friendly features that may include solar heating systems, insulated windows and doors, sun-reflecting roofs and natural shading for south and west exposures. These environmentally responsible designs can also reduce utility costs to provide even greater benefits for military families.

Furnished Residences

Some military bases offer rental plans for fully furnished homes complete with entertainment centers, kitchen appliances and other amenities. This can be of real benefit for families who transfer often. Rather than moving furniture and appliances, the availability of furnished homes on base can provide real convenience for individuals and families of those serving in the armed forces.

Integration of Ranks

In contrast to previous military base layouts that isolated members of each rank in their own specified areas, newer bases allow greater cohesion by allowing highly ranked non-commissioned officers to share the same basic space with other officers of higher rank. This allows for a greater sense of camaraderie and can potentially lead to improved cooperation among officers, non-coms and enlisted men and women on the base and in the working environment.

Integrating Input From Military Families

Many military bases are actively soliciting feedback from residents on base to determine the most effective upgrades for existing facilities and the best approaches to new construction. By incorporating their suggestions into existing and new base development, officials and administrators can create a more positive environment for service members and their families. Playgrounds, green space and shared community amenities are often among the most requested upgrades to these living spaces.

Implementing Modern Building Techniques

In some cases, modular building strategies can allow greater cost efficiency for military housing. The savings realized by these newer construction techniques can be spent on added amenities to make the lives of active-duty service members more comfortable and more convenient. This is especially critical for military families with children who need safe outdoor play areas to stay happy and healthy.

These improvements in on-base housing are designed to help families enjoy greater comfort during military tours of duty and to reduce the costs of utilities in green-friendly residences. As technologies for solar power and energy efficiency continue to improve, the housing available for members of the armed forces will evolve to ensure the most cost-effective use of resources and the best possible experience for active-duty military and their families throughout their service.

Printing Nutrition: How 3D Printers May Revolutionize the Mess Hall

In recent years, 3D printing devices have become established fixtures within the scientific community and have been used to print apparel, eyeglasses, architectural models, industrial parts and items used in medical and dental procedures. These advanced systems offer exceptional versatility in the research environment and can be configured to produce almost any type of product. This flexibility has made 3D printing one of the fastest growing industries in the scientific field and has resulted in extensive media coverage of this new technology.

Commercial Food Applications

In the business world, 3D printers are already in use to create custom cake decorations and sculptures from real sugar. These advanced tools can easily deliver intricate filigree designs and dainty flowers to make any cake creation more special. In the civilian world, however, the use of 3D printers in creating food is usually reserved for these types of delicate culinary constructions. For military members serving overseas, however, 3D printers may provide added options to ensure proper nutrition and increased menu variety for those troops stationed far from home.

Food Custom-Designed for Military Members

The U.S. military is currently exploring the use of 3D printers to provide customized nutritional products for soldiers on the battlefield or at the front lines of combat. Combined with advanced physiological monitoring systems, these printers could produce food products that contain the precise mix and proportion of nutrients needed by each soldier. Ensuring that these foods are both edible and nutritious is the primary challenge facing the designers of these new menu items. By producing foods that are dense in nutrients and optimally designed to suit the palates of military members, these 3D printers could potentially ensure better health for soldiers while delivering cost-effective food choices for military members and civilians alike.

Still a Work in Progress

Initial responses to taste tests of 3D printed food have been mixed. While most of these items are described as flavorful, they may be overly spiced or too dense for most palates. Adjustments continue to be made to ensure the most positive response to these new food items and to increase the practicality of 3D printing devices in the field. If these tools become an accepted part of the military experience, they could potentially provide nutritional plans tailor-made to the needs of soldiers and could ensure the most balanced diets for these individuals throughout their military careers.

Supplementing MREs

Meals-ready-to-eat, commonly abbreviated as MREs, are a staple field ration for members of the military. While these food products are designed to keep well in a wide range of temperatures and environments, they may become monotonous for soldiers with only a limited variety of choices. The selection of menu items made possible by 3D printing can often relieve the tedium and provide added incentives to eat and stay healthy in the field.

Along with other technological advances, 3D printers and the nutritional products they produce can help keep members of the military healthier. This can enhance their state of readiness and can ensure faster response times in crisis situations.

Iron Man: From Comic Book to Reality

Tony Stark, better known to his fans around the world as Marvel’s Iron Man, is known for his distinctive red and gold suit of body armor and his ability to soar into the sky using computer controlled jet packs. While flying is not yet on the list of functions for the armor under development at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), soldiers may soon be outfitted with a cutting-edge suit that incorporates some of the same key concepts present in Iron Man’s gear. The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) is a lightweight alternative to heavier body armor that incorporates cutting-edge technology to provide added protection and mobility for troops on the ground.

Climate Control a Key Element

Given the harsh conditions and extremes of climate faced by soldiers in recent conflicts, TALOS is expected to include climate controls to reduce stress and enhance performance on the part of users. Temperature management will also be important to maintain key computing elements inside the suit and to provide protection against heat produced by the suit itself.

Powerful Exoskeleton

Most military experts believe that TALOS will afford users greater-than-human strength through a powered exoskeleton that will be capable of lifting hundreds of pounds and will offer added protection against enemy firepower or severe impacts. By providing a well-shielded core for human occupants, TALOS will provide a safer working environment for service members in the field of fire while allowing them to perform their tasks with greater ease.

Heads-Up Displays

TALOS will likely incorporate heads-up displays and external cameras that will allow users to view their surroundings while completely encased in protective armor. Depending on the location and the situation, night vision, infrared and other advanced scanning techniques could be made available on demand to ensure the most appropriate visibility for soldiers throughout the day and night. The same technology currently used to display alerts for drivers on windshields can provide added help for navigating the TALOS from the inside of an enclosed suit.

Battery Life Still an Issue

Unlike Tony Stark’s Iron Man arc-reactor suit, however, powering the TALOS will require an ingenious new approach to the battery problem. Electric batteries require regular recharging and replacement. By finding ways to extend the life and reliability of these power sources or by developing new and innovative ways to power TALOS, researchers can improve the chances of soldiers in combat conditions.

Advanced Armor

RDECOM has announced that it will use magnetorheological (MR) fluid armor in constructing the external shell of the TALOS system. MR fluid uses magnetic fields to create variable hardness for body armor to allow greater flexibility when moving and solid protection against impacts. By incorporating this advanced protective substance into the TALOS system, RDECOM can ensure effective protection without increasing weight significantly.

Upon its completion, TALOS is expected to deliver added protection for soldiers in the field and will ensure the most effective response to threats against U.S. interests at home and abroad. The technologies used to construct this advanced armor system will also be useful in the development of consumer products to enhance safety in the civilian world.