Types of Desert Terrain

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To survive in arid or desert areas, you must understand and prepare for the environment you will face. You must determine your equipment needs, the tactics you will use, and how the environment will affect you and your tactics. Your survival will depend upon your knowledge of the terrain, basic climatic elements, your ability to cope with these elements and your will to survive.

Types of Terrain

Most arid areas have several types of terrain.The five basic desert terrain types are:

  • mountainous (high altitude)
  • rocky plateau
  • sand dunes
  • salt marshes
  • broken, dissected terrain (“gebel”or “wadi”)

Desert terrain makes movement difficult and demanding. Land navigation is extremely difficult as there may be very few landmarks. Cover and concealment may be very limited; therefore, the threat of exposure to the elements and hostile forces remains constant.

Information courtesy of the U.S. Army Survival Manual