Military Geology in War and Peace
In warfare, military geologists pursue five main categories of work: tactical and strategic terrain analysis, fortifications and tunneling, resource acquisition, defense installations, and field construction and logistics. In peace, they train for wartime operations and may be involved in peace-keeping and nation-building exercises. The classic dilemma for military geology has been whether support can best be provided by civilian technical-matter experts or by uniformed soldiers who routinely work with the combat units. In addition to the introductory paper this volume includes 24 papers, covering selected aspects of the history of military geology from the early 19th century through the recent Persian Gulf war, military education and operations, terrain analysis, engineering geology in the military, use of military geology in diplomacy and peace keeping, and the future of military geology.
British military geologists through war and peace in the 19th and 20th centuries
Published:January 01, 1998
Edward P. F. Rose, Michael S. Rosenbaum, 1998. "British military geologists through war and peace in the 19th and 20th centuries", Military Geology in War and Peace, James R. Underwood, Jr., Peter L. Guth
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The first geologists employed in government service in Britain had military appointments: J. MacCulloch from 1809 to 1826 in England and Scotland, and J. W. Pringle followed by J. E. Portlock from 1826 to 1843 in Ireland. The founder of the British Geological Survey in 1835, and his successor as director-general in 1855, both had military origins. Several early influential members of the world's oldest geological society, founded in London in 1807, had military connections. From 1819 to about 1896 geology contributed to military education in Britain at the East India Company's military college, the Royal Military Academy, the Royal Military College, the Staff College, or the School of Military Engineering.
However, professional geologists were not strictly used as such in the British army until the 1914–1918 world war, and then they were primarily used in response to problems of static battlefield conditions on the western front in Europe. W. B. R. King guided development of potable ground-water supplies; T. W. E. David guided siting of mine tunnels and dugouts, and other geologists served with the Tunnelling Companies of the Engineer Corps.
Geologists were used more widely in the more mobile conflicts of the 1939–1945 world war: notably W. B. R. King in France and the United Kingdom, F. W. Shotton in North Africa and northwest Europe, and J. V. Stephens in Italy. These and others were all to some extent concerned with water supply, but increasingly geologists became involved in terrain assessment for military purposes (e.g., airfield sites, ground trafficability, quarrying of aggregates, and effects of aerial bombing).
In both wars there were but few British military geologists; most were granted Emergency Commissions in the Royal Engineers for their war service. Only since 1949 has the corps maintained continuity of geological expertise through a small team of reserve army officers. This team now provides support for regular forces in both peace and war.