EWN Publications

Supporting Mission Resilience through Natural Infrastructure

Todd Bridges, Jeffrey King, and Courtney Chambers
February 28, 2022

About This Publication

The Military Engineer

Many of the challenges and opportunities that the Department of Defense (DOD) will face throughout the balance of the 21st century relate to building and sustaining the infrastructure needed for mission resilience. Currently, DOD and its 3 million team members operate on more than 25-million-acres and nearly 5,000 sites in different regions, climates, and landscapes in the United States and around the world. Over the last five years, military installations have experienced more than $10 billion in damage from storms, flooding, and other natural hazards. These risks are compounded by combinations of natural hazards, climate change, and aging infrastructure. Given the complexity of DOD’s mission, there are not many instances where simple “silver bullet” infrastructure solutions are sufficient. Creating resilient systems requires innovation and action. Meeting this need will require new ways of thinking about complex problems, an openness to new solutions, a willingness to change, and a commitment to adaptation.

For the last 10 years, an initiative within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working to develop and implement approaches that leverage natural systems to support critical engineering functions while also delivering a diversity of economic, environmental, and social co-benefits. The progress achieved through Engineering With Nature (EWN) over the last decade has been the product of numerous projects, partnerships, technical advancements, and communication investments.

These efforts are accelerating the innovation and delivery of nature-based solutions. The natural landscapes, features, and processes situated on DOD’s footprint can and will play a dynamic role in natural hazard mitigation. Through stewardship and investment, these assets comprise 25-million-acres of risk reduction potential—an opportunity that science and engineering practitioners can focus on to create nature-based solutions that support DOD readiness and resilience.