MOUT project

The U.S. Military increasingly finds itself operating in cities, as witnessed in recent conflicts in Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Military operations in urban terrain, commonly designated by its acronym MOUT, has become one of the fastest growing areas of concern for the military. MOUT concerns actions where enemy forces use guerilla-like tactics under the cover provided by fighting in a city.

For example, entering a building to clear it of hostiles is far different from open warfare in a field:

This project focused on MOUT within a single building. We are "zoomed in" to research small team movements and coordination in the critical operation of clearing a building. This involves searching the building room by room, eliminating enemy combatants, identifying non-combatants, and searching for things such as cached weapons, documents, and bomb-making materials. We constructed a facility for research into building clearing training at the 263rd Army National Guard, Air and Missile Defense Command site in Anderson, SC, approximately 15 km from Clemson University. The facility (appx. 200 sq. m.) consists of two parts, a "shoothouse" and an instructor operator station. The shoothouse, where building clearing exercises are conducted, consists of six rooms and interconnecting hallways. The rooms are reconfigurable to provide a variety of sizes, shapes, and entry points. The following pictures show the shoothouse from 4 different viewpoints, along with a CAD representation.

The shoothouse is equipped with 36 cameras positioned for tracking trainees during exercises. The instructor operation station contains computers and other equipment used for collecting, processing, recording, and presenting tracking information on the training exercises. A large screen allows for presentation of the recorded exercise, for example for an after action review.

We constructed a custom lasertag system that enables us to track weapon orientations, head orientations, and firing, and wirelessly transmit these data. The point of our system is to be able to track where the subjects are aiming their weapons, and where they are looking, at all times, not just when they fire their weapons. Both the rifle and the helmet are equipped with a combination magnetometer/accelerometer, produced by Honeywell Corp., to track orientation. The weapons emit laser pulses upon firing that can be detected by sensors on the weapons and helmets of other subjects. All data are broadcast at 8-15 Hz and are available for real-time or off-line analysis for deriving training metrics. The following figures show a weapon and some of the parts.

Rifle Helmet Custom circuit board
Circuit board inside rifle stock Inside helmet Orientation sensor inside rifle barrel

Working with UFI Serving Science, Inc., we constructed a custom heart monitoring device. The device can be worn on a belt loop or using a small shoulder strap. It measures heartrate and heartrate variability indices. All our devices, including the rifle, helmet, and heart monitor, use the 802.11b standard to transmit data wirelessly to the instructor operator station. This allows us to use commercial routers and standard socket programming techniques to communicate to our devices, lowering cost and improving reliability.


Our primary objective was to collect and provide data on training exercises for use by the larger research community. We recorded hundreds of training exercises that can be analyzed. Please contact us to inquire about obtaining a copy of the data. An example recording may be downloaded here. Note that there are several files, including a program that replays the recorded data files. The following image shows a screenshot from the replay.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Office of Naval Research VIRTE program, and the U.S. Army Urban Operations Focus Area Collaborative Team (UO FACT) program. Some seed funding was provided by the Clemson University Office of the Provost and the College of Engineering and Science. The South Carolina Military Department provided space for the project at the 263rd AAMDC site.


The first image shows part of our team visiting Quantico, Virginia, where the U.S. Marines train. The second image shows us visiting Ft. Benning, Georgia, where the U.S. Army trains.

A group of marines, who had recently returned from Fallujah, Iraq, conducts exercises at our site.

Some images of marines training at 29 Palms, California. Last updated January 2013
MOUT Project Page / Clemson /