Terrain evaluation for peacekeeping with examples from Bosnia Herzegovina
Geology has influenced military commanders and the outcome of military operations since ancient times. Terrain evaluation was developed in the 1960s and has benefited greatly from recent developments in GIS (geographic information systems). Peacekeeping operations are increasingly becoming a component of armed forces workload. Geologic support based on terrain evaluation principles was provided to the UN and NATO during peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations in Bosnia Herzegovina. This included assessments of slope stability, seismic hazard, flood risk, groundwater potential, and construction materials.
The role of the geologist advising military commanders during peace support operations essentially becomes a hybrid of those roles of military geologists and conventional civilian engineering geologists. As ever, training in the engineering operations of the “client” is essential to delivering a successful product—usually defined as an approximate answer within a very limited time frame rather than a “good” answer late.