Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

This book is a collection of papers presented at the 11th International Conference of Military Geoscience that was held in 2015.
The conference included discussion on a diverse range of geosciences, including military history, military geology, teaching geology from a military prospective, geological influence on the battlefield, and environmental and cultural issues related to management of military lands. Geology and geography have played a significant role in military history, from providing the stone for primitive tools and weapons, to the utilization of terrain in offensive and defensive strategies. Specific to this volume, deserts comprise nearly a third of the Earth’s surface and have been the site of numerous battles where the dust, heat, and a lack of food and water have provided challenges to military leaders and warriors. This book examines the role of deserts in past and modern warfare, the problems and challenges in managing military lands in desert regions, and how desert environmental conditions can impact military equipment and personnel. This proceedings volume should be of interest to scholars, professionals, and those interested in military history, warfare, geology, geography, cultural resources, general science, and military operations.



Chapter 1. Introduction: Geosciences Supporting and Analyzing Military Operations

The natural environment affects almost all human activity, including military operations. While scientific study of the earth sciences represents a relatively recent development, people have always noticed that the landscape, surface processes, climate, and weather affected what can or cannot be accomplished, including for warfare. They did not need soil science to understand that bogs would severely hamper mobility, or climatology to know that the range of possible activity changed between winter and summer, or the dry and wet seasons.
Peter L. Guth

Chapter 2. Improvement in German Military Geology from the Napoleonic Wars to First World War

The roots of military geology date back to the end of the seventeenth century when Swiss Mining Officer Johann Samuel von Gruner made use of the knowledge of dip and strike of formations for tactical purposes during the Napoleonic War in 1792. When he immigrated to Bavaria in 1802, he joined the Bavarian Army as a commissioned officer. In 1820 Gruner wrote down a memorandum on the relationship between geology and military science. This paper titled “Verhältnis der Geognosie zur Kriegs-Wissenschaft” (The relation of geology to war science) was published posthumously in a mining yearbook in 1826. Due to the fact that his early approach on geologic military terrain evaluation was neglected for nearly a century, Gruner can be termed the forgotten father of military geology. In the early twentieth century, Walter Kranz, a commissioned officer, again pioneered German military geology. In 1913 Kranz published his first paper on military geology, recognizing the importance of geology with regard to military planning. In particular, he understood the need for studying underground installations, mining, and water supply. Receiving his PhD in geology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Kranz set a milestone in German military geology, making use of applied geology for military needs. He joined the First World War as a major and also as a military geologist. In total he published more than 170 scientific papers, a third of which deal with military geology and his experiences in war geology. Therefore, Kranz actually can be termed the father of German military geology.
Hermann Häusler

Chapter 3. The Battle of Big Hole (Montana, USA, 1877): History, Archaeology, GIS, and Military Terrain Analysis

The Battle of Big Hole took place in western Montana on August 9–10, 1877, between the US 7th Infantry and the Nez Perce Indians. Big Hole was a short but very deadly battle (28 dead from an Army force of less than 200 and 60–90 Nez Perce killed) but provides an outstanding historical record. Eyewitness accounts from both sides, as well as oral traditions passed down to descendants, provide a detailed description of the battle. Archaeology surveys in the early 1990s recovered artifacts (primarily bullets and shell casings) and allow identification of individual weapons used by both sides. The original archaeological work used a computer-aided design (CAD) program. Reanalysis of the archaeological survey provides several new perspectives on the battle. The archaeological record shows a series of Army bullets moving up the slope to the location in historical records of a Nez Perce sniper firing on the Army troops. A weapons fan drawn from the sniper location shows where the Army anti-sniper fire could have originated and suggests where those soldiers fired from and which weapons they likely used. A weapons fan from the location of an ineffective Army mountain howitzer shows that it was poorly positioned to hit the Nez Perce village and that it also had extremely limited visibility to its flanks and rear, helping explain why it was captured so easily. The GIS can animate the locations of the individual weapons identified by shell casings, helping to trace the movement of troops during the initial attack on the Indian village and then the retreat to a fortified area. This study verifies a strong link among historical records, battlefield archaeology, GIS, and military terrain analysis.
Peter L. Guth, Douglas D. Scott

Chapter 4. The Influence of Physical Geography on the Outcome of the Battle of Spioenkop During the Anglo-Boer War, 1899–1902

The way in which military operations are conducted has changed dramatically over the past centuries, but one element has remained constant – the physical geographical factors that form the backdrop against which these military operations take place. While geographical factors almost always play some role in the outcome of a military operation, for some operations the influence can be markedly more important than others.
One such battle where physical geographical factors, and the interpretation of the battlefield geography, played a significant part in the outcome was the battle of Spioenkop. This battle was fought on 24 January 1900 during the Anglo-Boer War. The Anglo-Boer War raged in present-day South Africa between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics, the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR or Transvaal) and the Orange Free State (OFS), from 1899 to 1902. Spioenkop turned out to be the second bloodiest battle of the whole war, and several physical geographical factors played a significant role in the unfolding and outcome of the battle. These factors were lack of terrain intelligence, weather conditions, soil depth on the summit, and the inability of the British artillery to engage the Boer artillery because of the topography.
This paper will analyze the battle of Spioenkop by extracting the salient geographical features from written accounts of the battle and relating them to the battle.
H. A. P. Smit, J. Bezuidenhout

Chapter 5. Military Geoscientific Materials for Excursions to Theatres of First World War in France and Belgium

Following the “Schlieffen Plan”, the Germans attacked the neutral Netherlands and Belgium at the beginning of First World War . In autumn 1914, the German right wing turned around Verdun – as a kind of pivot – towards the river Marne, where the offensive was stopped. When the Germans tried to protect their open western flank, the Allies tried to surpass them. This “Race to the Sea” across Flanders ended at Nieuwpoort. As a consequence, the whole front between Nieuwpoort and Belfort stabilized and became a network of trenches. Four weeks of operations across Central Europe were followed up by 4 years of underground operations, the so-called trench war, and millions of British, French, Canadian and German soldiers now had to fight in trenches and in the underground.
Resistance to water and permeability of the Jurassic formations at Verdun and of the Tertiary formations at Ypres heavily influenced trench warfare during 4 years of hostilities. For draining the clayey rocks, for water supply from deeper groundwater horizons and for excavating fortified positions, information about permeable and impermeable layers was of the essence. By digging tunnels in impermeable layers, enemy positions were blown up at Wytschaete and Passchendaele near Ypres, and after heavy precipitation artillery fire turned the Ypres Clays of the Flanders fields into impassable swamps.
This study analyses military operations and subsurface conditions in the Verdun area and in Flanders fields focussing on the long lasting trench warfare, which was heavily influenced by the geologic and hydrogeologic situation. Military geoscientific material is provided for excursions along the Maas Valley at Verdun in France and along the Yser Valley in the Ypres Salient in Belgium.
Reinhard Mang, Hermann Häusler

Chapter 6. The Cadore Offensive: Theoretical Military Geography Considerations

The failure of the attack on the Puster Valley at the beginning of Italian hostilities during the First World War (WWI), known as the Cadore offensive, has been of great interest in the Italian debates. Although the disadvantages of the Alpine front’s geography for the Italian offensive have been widely accepted, specific and systematic studies are still lacking. Therefore, in this paper, we address the military significance of the Cadore offensive’s geography from a theoretical point of view. We analyze General L. Cadorna’s theoretical assessment based on the perspective provided by theoretical considerations resulting mainly from late nineteenth-century military geographers’ theories, as well those gathered from some early twentieth-century military studies.
Mauricio Nicolas Vergara, Aldino Bondesan

Chapter 7. “Trenches in the Ocean”: Geography and the Russian Defense of the Baltic Sea, 1912–1917

As World War I approached, the Russians faced seemingly intractable problems in defending their capital, St. Petersburg, from a German naval or amphibious assault. The Japanese had sunk the mainstay of defense, the Baltic Fleet, at Tsushima in 1906, and while the Russians embarked upon a fleet construction program, progress was slow owing to political considerations, and the higher priority accorded the army’s reconstruction. With no chance of matching the Germans in a naval engagement, the Russian naval staff came up with an ingenious scheme using a combination of minefields and long-range coastal artillery located on strategic islands in the Gulf of Finland, turning the narrow gulf into a gantlet that stymied the Germans.
Michael B. Barrett

Chapter 8. Fort Eben-Emael: Geographic Pivot of the Western Front, 1940

On 11 May 1940, Fort Eben-Emael, touted to be the strongest fort in the world and lynchpin in the Allied defensive system, fell to a small, highly trained force of German glider troops. The world was shocked by the mysterious and unorthodox attack that caused the fort to surrender after only 28 hours, thus opening a gap in the Allied line through which German panzers advanced: 10 days later the Belgians capitulated, and French forces along the Ardennes and Meuse River collapsed, precipitating the Allied debacle at Dunkirk. Thus, Eben-Emael was perhaps the geographic pivot of the Western Front. Fort Eben-Emael was built during the interwar period and carefully sited on an 80-meter high ridge of hard limestone south of Maastricht to protect key crossing points along the Meuse River. Recognizing the critical nature of this terrain, the Belgian Army constructed the fort to be immensely strong and impregnable – except from the air, a fatal flaw that the highly trained German force exploited. The fall of Eben-Emael was decisive because it opened a lethal gap in the Allied line, and it triggered the collapse of the Western Front. This paper will examine the geography Fort Eben-Emael and the German attack on the fort to demonstrate its importance to the strategic geometry of the Western Front and its significance as a geographic pivot during this decisive campaign.
Francis A. Galgano

Chapter 9. Early Virtual Reality Simulators for the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Navy

During the Second World War, realistic training was a necessity, but visualisation of the battle space was usually passive with terrain models and photo mosaics. Simulators for pilot training concentrated on instrumentation and controls. Fit Ups (of Manchester), a theatre scenery manufacturer and lighting dealer, used their expertise in creating illusion to adapt the Link Trainer, an early American flight simulator, for torpedo training. The trainer was initially enclosed within a static screen with a crude painted landscape to increase realism. After 18 months of development, in 1942, a Torpedo Attack Teacher (TAT) was created at a Fleet Air Arm Station in Scotland. The first TAT consisted of a Link Trainer configured as a Fairey Barracuda torpedo bomber enclosed in a 300° screen within which atmospheric and lighting effects and a realistic target ship were created. Both the planes’ track and the target ship’s path were recorded on a map. A sophisticated projector enabled the target to turn, move and grow larger as the plane approached. When a torpedo was dropped, the target and torpedo paths were calculated and a hit or miss indicated to the student pilot. Following the success of the prototype, the navy extended the technology, and TATs were developed for destroyers and Motor Torpedo Boats, submarines and an Operational Crew Trainer. This combined the terrain map with the interactivity of a simulator to train spotting for shore bombardment. Over 60 TATs were constructed in the UK, USA and British territories, for the Navy and the Royal Air Force. Some continued in use postwar, although attempts at developing an export market were of limited success.
Shane Guy

Chapter 10. The 1968–1973 Egyptian Army Field Preparations for Crossing the Suez Canal and the Conflict Between Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Research Units

Much has been written about the intelligence fiasco of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with respect to the 1973 Yom Kippur (October) War. Less than a handful of papers have highlighted what led to the intelligence blunder, namely, the main intelligence research agencies’ refusal to accept geographic intelligence. This paper, based mainly upon the 2nd author’s personal experience, reviews the 5-year process of the IDF geographic intelligence research prior to the surprise Egyptian offensive. This research, based upon aerial photo interpretation and terrain analysis, identified and explained step-by-step tactical infrastructural changes in the Soviet-supported Egyptian military field preparations for crossing the Suez Canal that were verified from ground observations and personal recollections of commanders and intelligence personnel from both sides during and after the War.
This paper exemplifies how terrain fortifications, modifications, and construction can be observed, analyzed, and interpreted at a strategic level by geographic intelligence methods. It is an account of the organizational processes, difficulties, and challenges of collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of spatial field data and as such exemplifies how concrete geographic intelligence, combined with an understanding of military operations, can generate intelligence that is superior to intelligence based on SIGINT and HUMINT. Organizational tension between geographic and research intelligence units, though possibly inherent, must be continuously addressed and coordinated to provide a holistic intelligence assessment.
Joel Roskin, Eliyahu Dekel-Dolitzky

Chapter 11. The Role of Terrain and Terrain Analysis on Military Operations in the Late Twentieth to Early Twenty-First Century: A Case Study of Selected IDF Battles

The following analysis of the contribution of terrain and terrain evaluation to eight Israel Defense Forces military engagements since the late 1960s, mostly against guerrilla forces, demonstrates that terrain and the application of terrain analysis significantly affect battles. Nowadays, following the growing imbalance in military technology between guerillas and western militaries, guerillas try to limit their exposure to remote detection and fire technologies and exploit the advantages that terrain (e.g., urban/subterranean) offer for concealment. The paper argues that the combat scenarios now facing western forces in deprived regions are often affected by terrain and the accuracy/inaccuracy of terrain analysis. The subsurface affords considerable relative offensive and especially defensive potential for using guerilla tactics against sophisticated technologies. Further semiquantitative study is needed to identify the scenarios where terrain had and has a significant relative impact on past and modern combat.
Joel Roskin

Chapter 12. Passive Seismic Survey of Sediment Thickness, Dasht-e-Nawar Basin, Eastern Afghanistan

Exploration of water resources is needed for public supply and mineral resources development in Afghanistan. Remotely sensed data are useful for identifying the general nature of surface sediments; however, hazardous “boots on the ground” geophysics or drilling programs are needed to quantify the thickness of sediments. The Dasht-e-Nawar Basin, in east-central Afghanistan, contains a 400 km2 playa that includes evaporative mineral deposits, particularly lithium. In 2014, the USGS compared the results of a passive seismic survey of sediment thickness to the results of an independently conducted gravity survey of the basin.
Each passive seismic measurement required less than 30 minutes by one person utilizing ambient noise without external sound sources or sensor arrays. The gravity survey was conducted during a period of 3 weeks by an experienced field crew; required a detailed, centimeter-scale land elevation survey; and required laboratory analyses of sediment and rock densities to interpret the gravity data. In contrast, the passive seismic survey was collected by two inexperienced operators over a period of 8 days and required no additional data to interpret. Although the quality of the seismic survey was affected by strong afternoon winds and by the inexperience of the field operators, the results were fairly comparable to the gravity survey. Similar sediment thicknesses were identified by both surveys in the basin with an estimated maximum thickness of approximately 247 m. Although this method will not be effective in all geologic settings, it required substantially less effort than would be required by other geophysical surveys.
Thomas J. Mack

Chapter 13. Silver Bullets and the Paradox of Plenty: Natural Resource Development in Afghanistan

Post 9/11 USGS research on the prospectivity, or mineral potential mapping, of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth led commentators, governments and the US military to promote the mineral resources of Afghanistan as enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself. Afghanistan’s prospectivity however was of little surprise to economic geologists and is some of the most highly prospective ground in the world.
But a range of issues, the most obvious of which is the past 30 years of prolonged conflict, have made it unattractive for investment when there were lower risk opportunities elsewhere.
The development of a nation’s natural resources sector is not without its risks as they can in fact lead to instability and even conflict resurgence. The discovery of abundant natural resources in an emerging market can paradoxically lead to stagnant growth or even economic contraction. This is commonly referred to as the Paradox of Plenty or the Natural Resources Curse.
Despite the international donor community’s desire to exploit the utility of natural resources for the greater good of the Afghan state, the level of communication, cooperation and coordination between the donors, their agents and the Afghan stakeholders continues to fall short of what should be possible. Expenditures exceeding USD$ 586 million to the mineral industry have delivered little success, and Afghanistan’s natural resources are unlikely to make a significant contribution to the state’s economy for at least 5–10 years.
Lt Col Drew Craig

Chapter 14. The Need for Geoscience Inputs in Civil Military Planning and Response

The twenty-first-century world is best described by coupled human and natural systems. Within the natural system, environmental degradation, geological and hydrometeorological hazards, space weather, and climate change all interface and interact with ethnic, religious, ideological, and capability drivers creating the human systems. Increasing evidence that climate change is altering the interfaces and interactions that link human to natural subsystems is being recognized around the world reflected in civil and military policies and strategies. With the incidence of natural disasters and conflict increasing, national and foreign militaries can be expected to play a bigger role working alongside civil actors. This will increasingly be in degraded environments and often in urban settings. This requires a renewed emphasis on identifying and preventing naturally induced drivers of conflict, disasters, and humanitarian catastrophes. Understanding of the physical environment will need to be obtained using knowledge from geo-eco-bio-physical and technical fields and provided to civil military planners and responders.
M. H. Bulmer

Chapter 15. Insurgency and the City

Cities have been viewed as pivotal locations in insurgencies and rebellions throughout history, as the initial locations of protest and primary sites of political violence against ruling authorities or as secondary or ancillary places of conflict but ultimate objectives in such struggles. The spatial significance of cities, therefore, has led theorists to categorize insurgent approaches into three different strategies through which insurgencies can be waged: an urban, a rural, or a combined approach in which rural and urban strategies are employed in concert. The strategy of particular insurgent movements has largely varied by geo-historical context, and success or failure of a movement to gain power clearly depends on a large number of factors, many of which are inherently geographic. Urban landscapes provide distinct advantages and disadvantages to insurgents and counterinsurgents, yet the literature offers often contradictory conclusions and findings while failing to adequately distinguish or define the differences between rural and urban. As levels and rates of urbanization continue to increase, together with the subsequent urbanization of insurgency evident in recent decades, trends suggest urban centers of all scales – not just cities – will remain the spatial center of gravity during insurgencies. This paper provides a survey of the literature on insurgencies and the city and offers an appraisal of these theorizations in the context of insurgencies within the last decade. In particular, this paper seeks to build upon these works to propose a framework to better understand insurgencies as a spatial process in urban environments.
Andrew D. Lohman


Weitere Informationen