experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Defense is moving
away from pitching tents for many support facilities in combat zones, and
instead using shipping containers. These are being used for living and work
space, and are popular because the containers are sturdy, and easily
transportable. Thus these containers, which only came into general use about
fifty years ago, are changing the face of warfare.
The big advantage of a
shipping container (especially the standard 20x8x8 foot one) is that you can
equip it, for whatever has to be done, before you send it overseas. Thus
computer facilities, laboratories, kitchens, laundries, repair shops and
specialized storage (for some types of weapons) can be built into containers,
and sent over. Once these arrive, you simply plug in electricity, water or
whatever, and get to work. Very efficient, and much appreciated amidst the
chaos of a combat zone.
For the last decade or so,
troops in combat zones have been holding on to these containers (which also
come in 40x8x8 size) for use as work or living space. This has caused some
tense moments with the logistics bureaucrats back home. Sensing a market, however, for the last six
years some firms have provided a growing number of customized containers. This
includes armor kits for the containers, and all manner of accessories to make
the steel boxes more, well, livable.