While a partisan debate continues over President Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along America’s southern border, the U.S. military is taking a more objective approach by putting various models through a series of tests.
According to The Associated Press, tactical units gauged the efficacy of different materials and designs. Information about those tests was provided by an anonymous military source who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
Eight different models of proposed walls have been constructed near the U.S-Mexico border in San Diego, California. Members of a Florida-based military unit reportedly worked alongside federal customs officials in recent weeks to rate design elements of these prototypes on a practical level.
The special forces team reportedly used all manner of devices in an attempt to either power through a wall or scale it and land on the other side. Models stood up to brute force applied by jackhammers, torches and various hand tools.
Testers also employed hooks and other devices, though most attempts were foiled by the designs of the walls. In only one case was an individual able to hook the top of a wall unassisted and successfully climb it, according to the military source.
In scaling the prototypes, height was naturally an important factor. Tactical personnel were able to successfully climb up and over walls up to 20 feet under their own power, the source said to the AP. When they encountered models up to 30 feet tall, however, testers not only needed assistance to reach the top, but expressed concerns about their safety in getting down.
A report based on the team’s findings does not recommend any particular model, instead suggesting the combination of several elements to create a fluid design that best suits the different types of terrain along the border.
Some design elements might work well in certain areas of the country while not being feasible or effective in other areas. Tubes affixed to the top of one prototype, for example, provided an effective deterrent against climbing tools, but could not be used in mountainous terrain.
As for the material used for the design, testing indicated that concrete-topped steel is most effective and durable. Exposed steel near the ground allows authorities to see through the wall while smooth concrete further up impedes climbers, the source told the AP.
In addition to increased visibility, a steel design is also reportedly recommended in the military report because it is simpler and less costly to replace should any portion of the wall be breached.
Trump recently reiterated his commitment to a central campaign promise to build a border wall, a project he claimed would be funded by Mexico.
The eight border wall prototypes were constructed in October by six construction firms from across the U.S.
Four of the roughly 30-foot walls are constructed out of solid concrete while the other four consist of other materials — namely steel and concrete. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reportedly paid contractors a combined $20 million for the eight models.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.