A Complete Guide to Defense Modular Construction
While it may not immediately jump to mind when you think about modular buildings, the defense industry is one of the best candidates for these structures. There are many benefits associated with defense modular construction, and their use is becoming increasingly common in the defense sector. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at defensive military modular buildings and what you should know about this essential industry.
What is the Defense Industry?
Before digging deeper into the specific applications of defensive military modular buildings, it’s helpful to define the defense industry. The defense industry develops and manufactures products that the Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States military use to protect our country against a variety of threats. These include physical, cyber, chemical, and biological threats, among others.
Companies in this industry typically contract with military branches or agencies to produce products that fulfill specific needs. They may also serve commercial markets, depending on the specific products and services they offer. As potential threats continue to evolve, the defense industry must engineer new products and systems that prevent widespread attacks and casualties.
Six Defense Industry Segments
The defense industry can be broken down into six specific segments, which we’ll define below:
- Commercial aircraft and general aviation: includes airplanes and helicopters.
- Ground defense: includes armored vehicles, tanks, munitions, and transport vehicles.
- Military aircraft: includes jet and stealth fighters, bombers, transport planes, and attack helicopters.
- Missiles and space: includes satellite launching.
- Satellites, electronics, and communication: includes infrared, radar, sonar, avionics, missile/rocket guidance and control systems, and information systems.
- Shipbuilding: includes surface ships (aircraft carriers and destroyers) and submarines.
Why the United States Needs Defense Modular Construction
The United States Department of Defense will receive $715 billion in federal funding in 2022, making it one of the most substantial government agencies. Defense spending increases every year, and an increased need for space in remote or hard-to-reach areas has forced the U.S. military to seek out alternative DoD construction solutions.
The accelerated timeline associated with modular construction makes it perfect for the defense sector. Modular structures quickly provide additional space for personnel, equipment, and processes in a way traditional construction cannot. And as global security environments evolve, DoD modular buildings help prepare our armed forces to take action, regardless of location or objective.
Benefits of Defense Modular Construction
There are many benefits of modular construction for the defense industry, which we’ll review below.
Modular Buildings are Cost Effective
DoD modular buildings are an affordable way for the U.S. military to quickly train and mobilize their troops, even in remote areas. This facilitates faster deployment during wartime and streamlined operations during peacetime.
One of the main reasons behind the cost-effectiveness of modular buildings is their offsite manufacturing. These structures are built in controlled factories, ensuring faster turnaround times, lower material costs, enhanced customization, and consistent quality.
Modular Buildings are Flexible & Adaptable
Along with being cost-effective, modular defensive architecture is far more flexible and adaptable than traditional construction. Modular structures are designed to be unbuilt, reassembled, and relocated multiple times. This makes them ideal for military applications, which are constantly evolving, especially during deployments.
Modular Construction Reduces Base Disruption
Traditional construction projects can cause significant disruptions on military bases, which is often problematic. Because they’re built remotely and brought on-base only for final assembly, modular structures reduce raw material use, expended energy, and cumulative downtime. There are also fewer workers required in secure areas, which is another benefit of defense modular construction.
Defensive Fighting Position Construction & Modular Buildings
One of the most common examples of defense modular construction is defensive fighting positions (DFPs). These earthwork structures are typically pits or trenches dug deep enough for soldiers to stand in with only their heads exposed.
Common defensive fighting positions include tobruks, foxholes, and machine gun nests (or pillboxes). Defensive fighting position construction is usually supplemented with corrugated iron, wire, or star pickets, which are installed below ground level to resist cave-in from artillery fire or tank tracks.
Modular Defensive Construction Supply Centers
Modular buildings are frequently used as defensive construction supply centers due to their affordability, flexibility, and expedited timeline. Also known as inventory control points, these centers fall under the jurisdiction of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The Defense Logistics Agency provides support for every active branch of the armed forces, along with several other federal organizations.
Along with providing logistical and weapons support, defensive construction supply centers typically house relevant Department of Defense agencies. They’re also responsible for managing supply and demand for both land and maritime weapon systems. Additionally, defensive construction supply centers house repair parts for land vehicles, maritime vessels, and military electronic equipment.
Types of Modular Defensive Structures
Here are a few of the most common types of defense modular construction beyond defensive construction supply centers:
- Administrative facilities
- Ammunition storage facilities
- Blast-resistant housing and storage
- Intelligence facilities
- Mess facilities
- One-plus-one modules
- Recreation facilities
- Research facilities
- Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIF)
- Search and rescue stations
- Special Access Program Facilities (SAPF)
- Training facilities
- Utility structures
- Vehicle repair, maintenance, and storage facilities
- Weapons and ammunition production facilities
Specific Examples of Defense Modular Construction
We’ll conclude this blog by examining three prominent applications of defensive military modular buildings by the United States Coast Guard and Army.
United States Coast Guard Air Station (Elizabeth City, NC)
The United States Coast Guard base in Elizabeth City, NC “provides a wide variety of mission support services to units and personnel, including general administration and personnel management, medical/dental, supply, procurement and warehousing, industrial services, facilities maintenance, computer/electronics support, and morale and recreational services.” During a recent expansion, the base chose modular units as opposed to stick construction to quickly add extra office space to an aircraft repair center.
United States Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (Fort Dix, NJ)
Informally known as Fort Dix, this base houses five wings of the armed forces. The mission of Fort Dix is to “provide unrivaled installation support to all mission commanders and to provide mission-ready, motivated, expeditionary Airmen to our combatant commanders.” Fort Dix is the Department of Defense’s first joint base and the only one to consolidate Air Force, Army, and Navy installations.
Fort Dix uses modular units to serve as relief barracks for Forward Operating Base (FOB) field training exercises. Designed to simulate military life in Iraq, theFOB includes staged modular tent camps, shower and sink facilities, computer labs, a “mayor’s office,” and open field space.
United States Army Strategic Deployment Platform (Fort Bliss, TX)
Fort Bliss “executes deployment operations, enabling rapid and efficient unit deployment and redeployment. [Additionally, it] provides facilities and services through a professional workforce that assists units in sustaining their readiness and promotes a safe and secure installation.”
Fort Bliss recently added a large number of modular able-bodied barracks, medical hold barracks, battalion headquarter buildings, and brigade headquarter buildings. The military battalion headquarters were customized with training, conference, and communications rooms. Additionally, the new information management building included offices, a server room, a network operations center, and electrical and mechanical rooms.