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.
Military Geology Unit of the U.S. Geological Survey during World War II
Published:January 01, 1998
On June 24, 1942, the temporary Military Geology Unit of the U.S. Geological Survey was formalized after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested them to prepare terrain intelligence studies to meet wartime priorities. The entire Military Geology Unit wartime roster was 114 professionals, including 88 geologists, 11 soil scientists, and 15 other specialists; 14 were women. Assisting staff (illustrators, typists, photographers, and others) totaled 43. The unit produced 313 studies, including 140 major terrain folios, 42 other major special reports, and 131 minor studies. These reports contain about 5,000 maps, 4,000 photographs and figures, 2,500 large tables, and 140 terrain diagrams. Most products were designed in the beginning for general strategic planning in Washington and later for detailed strategic planning overseas; they utilized graphics and nontechnical, telegraphic-style tabular texts.
The Military Geology Unit's principal effort was the preparation of the terrain folios titled Strategic Engineering Studies. They varied somewhat in content and format, but the key components usually were introduction, terrain appreciation, rivers, road and airfield construction, construction materials, and water resources. The folios, produced at an average rate of about one per week and at an average cost of $2,500, were compiled from scientific journals, books, maps, and photographs available in the Washington area by a team of 3 to 8 scientists; 8 to 12 teams might be working concurrently. MGU personnel took great pride in never having missed a delivery deadline.
In 1944, 5 Military Geology Unit consultants were sent to Europe and 5-man teams were assigned to the Southwest Pacific Area and to the Central Pacific Area. Each team produced large-scale terrain reports, mostly from aerial photographs, and consulted with engineer units and tactical officers in the field. By the end of the war, a consolidated 20-man team worked in Manila at the headquarters of the Armed Forces Pacific.