Military Hydrology Program

US Army Corps of Engineers
Published April 6, 2015
Updated: Jan. 6, 2022
Military Bridge Crossing.

Military Bridge Crossing.

The Military Hydrology Group at ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) provides timely hydrologic information in data sparse regions to inform planning and execution of military operations. This involves the characterization of streams and rivers as well as soil conditions. The group supports DoD operations around the world with river forecasting, floodplain delineation, and weather-impacted mobility assessments. The aim is to provide total hydrologic awareness to the DoD, and U.S. Government writ large, through real-time analysis and forecasting that promotes battlespace awareness, risk mitigation, logistical support, and partnership building though best-in-class hydrologic tools that provide authoritative information for advanced decision making.

Capability Areas

Risk Mitigation

  • Flood Hazard Mapping
  • Real-time Flood Warnings
  • Infrastructure Vulnerability
  • Contaminant Fate & Transport
  • Climate Vulnerabilities


Logistical Support

  • Wet Gap Crossing
  • Site Selection
  • Water Sourcing
  • Portable Hydropower
  • Waterway Navigability


Partnership Building

  • Water Diplomacy
  • Drought Mitigation
  • Food Security
  • Water Security
  • Climate Security


Battlespace Awareness

  • Synthetic Training Environments
  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
  • Terrain Limited Mobility
  • Threat Detection



Army and DoD policy documents place specific responsibility on the USACE as the director and monitor for Army programs in the atmospheric, topographic, hydrographic, and terrestrial sciences. This includes the simulation and visualization of environmental effects on Army assets; supporting and conducting relevant RDT&E activities to provide hydrological studies, forecasts, decision aids, and exploitation tools for military training, operations, and emergency response; and operationalizing and transitioning appropriate technologies to the U.S. Air Force Weather Enterprise in support of Army operations.

Supporting Technology

The Military Hydrology Group utilizes advanced modeling and simulation software coupled with remotely sensed data to assess conditions anywhere in the world. They do this through an integrated suite of models that link weather and climate information with complex terrestrial modeling capabilities and large-scale hydraulic routing applications that feed fine scale decision support applications. The modeling system consists of both open source and proprietary software.


In addition to supporting military exercises and troop deployments through tailored requests, the Military Hydrology Group fields a number of web-based tools to make hydrologic information available on demand. These web-apps provide remote assessments of lakes and reservoirs, streamflow forecasts (and hindcasts), and real-time estimates of soil strength and trafficability. The apps periodically update to ensure timely and relevant information is always available. Rather than waiting days or weeks for subject matter experts to conduct their analysis, the information is readily available online in many cases.

Success Stories

  • The ERDC provided extensive military hydrology support for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Concern over potential flooding and dam breach scenarios along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers resulted in CHL conducting a series of studies on the potential military impacts should such flooding occur. CHL’s efforts in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom were recognized in commendations from the National Intelligence Council, the Director of Central Intelligence, the National Ground Intelligence Center and the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity.
  • The ERDC supported Operation Joint Endeavor as the U.S. Army deployed troops and heavy vehicles into Bosnia across the Sava River at Zupanja, Croatia. Frequent floods and rapid rise and fall of river stages required frequent manipulation of the bridge anchoring. CHL along with the assistance of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) assisted the troops at the bridge site with snowmelt and rainfall-runoff forecasts over 3 years beginning in December 1995. The Bosnian operation brought international recognition with acknowledgment by NATO because of the quick and accurate calculations for tactical hydrologic calculations.