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Improving Mission Effectiveness

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ENSITE is dedicated to empowering military planners with the data and knowledge for siting base camps.  Base camp locations and designs are not one-size-fits all, rather they should be viewed as a multi-layer decision process to support the mission and commander’s intent. The built, ecological, and sociocultural environments impact military bases and, in turn, bases affect those environments. Failure to understand these effects may result in increased logistical burdens and unintended consequences on local populations and natural resources—negatively impacting the military mission.

What ENSITE Does

ENSITE builds upon leading geospatial platforms already in use by the Army (including ESRI ArcMap®) in order to offer an easy-to-use, customized set of workflows that remotely evaluates the built, natural, and social characteristics of a location in support of siting contingency bases.  With such a tool, planners (as well as designers, operators, and managers) can rapidly assess possible current and future situations to provide proactive operational control and timely alternative situational analyses while deployed or as part of their training programs.

The software capability supports the full lifecycle of the base—design, construction, operations/management, and deconstruction—with software components that add specific functions and features while minimizing complexity for the end user.  This flexibility and lightness allows users to deploy ENSITE into the field.  ENSITE combines Army doctrine, open-source data, and authoritative Army data in conjunction with user input to execute automated processes capable of processing large amounts of environmental data in a rapid, consistent, and standardized manner.


ENSITE is constructed as a collection of software capabilities developed for integrating and visualizing data of the built, natural, and social environment to support site analysis in answering the following questions.

What resources and infrastructure are locally available?

  • Are operations likely to affect the life patterns of the local population?
  • Where will the construction of a base camp best leverage local resources and minimize social impacts?
  • How do we build a base camp for a specific intent as well as for a sustainable lifecycle?

Below lists some of the core capabilities, or tools, currently available in ENSITE.  New tools are continuously developed, as such, users may request specific applications.

  • Terrain Suitability — ranks the best locations based on a combination of slope, distance to water, and distance to roads.
  • Landuse Suitability — ranks the fitness of in-situ land use for varied CB uses.  
  • Soil Suitability — indexes soils suitable for varied building types and transport vehicles. 
  • Line of Sight — generates a viewshed of areas visible or non-visible from one or more observer locations for integrated, terrain-driven force protection analyses.
  • Cultural and Heritage Sites — generates an index of internationally recognized cultural and natural centers within a defined region surrounding proposed CB site locations.
  • Building Materials — calculates the accessibility of locally procured building materials.  Includes a variety of materials at varied quality standards. 
  • Medivac Golden Hour — identifies areas within one-hour travel distance for a medical evacuation. Accounts for flight restrictions due to political and topographic factors. 

Path Forward

ENSITE is transitioning into two of the Army’s Programs of Records—ERDC’s Map Based Planning Services (MBPS) and AGC’s Instrument Set, Reconnaissance and Surveying (ENFIRE).  ENSITE assists MBPS with strategic decision making, and supports ENFIRE with site selection and surveying for Engineer Units.


  • Supply a common set of tools for connecting tactical operations to the strategic planning cell.
  • Reduce logistical burdens through optimal CB site selection design.
  • Improve the local population’s acceptance of military presence, and improve the military’s considerations of socioculturalvalues.
  • Decrease negative long-term effects on natural resources and local populations.


ERDCinfo@usace.army.mil, 217 373-3341

Environmental Processes Branch | Construction Engineering Research Laboratory
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center

AGE Node Army Geospatial Center Army Geospatial Enterprise cb site CB-SITE CERL CHL crrel EL Engineering Site Identification for the Tactical Environment ENSITE ERDC GRL Integration Program of Record Testing and Evaluation USACE