Great question. Water purification is a crucial support function for the US military, and all branches of the military train purification specialists to manage this job. One of the most common ways to provide clean drinking water for military operations is through the use of a device called (get ready for the military acronyms) a ROWPU, Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit. This is a water purifier about 8 x 8 x 10 feet which can produce 600 gallons of drinkable water per hour from seawater and 1,800 gallons per hour from fresh water. ROWPUs have been used by all branches of the military at least since the 1990/91 Operation Desert Storm and they are still in use in Iraq and Afghanistan today. The US Army is also testing a new lighter-weight purification system which is intended for use in waters of very high salinity–such as the Middle East, where sometimes water is too salty to be feasible for existing purification units.
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