“People have to live somewhere and that somewhere to them is important[:] The land has historical and cultural significance, strategic value,” McRaven said. “If we forget that, then geography will have its revenge.”…But Odierno’s full argument, which was backed up forcefully by McRaven, is considerably subtler and more interesting. “There are three things that I think intersect,” Odierno said. “I’m not sure quite how they intersect yet – what it means tactically, operationally, and strategically,” he added with his typical frankness, “but I know they are intersecting”: human beings, the online world in which humans increasingly interact with one another, and the physical terrain on which they live.
I think if you add GEN Odierno's comments on cyber to this definition of MIlitary Geography perhaps people would see the relevance of geography and would spend some more time studying military geography as part of professional military education.
“Military Geography is the study of the linkages between humans and the natural and cultural landscape insofar as it pertains to the employment of military force.”
--Peltier and Pearcy, 1966
Or you can turn to John Collins' book Military Geography for a more detailed description:
WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY DEFINES GEOGRAPHY AS "A SCIENCE THAT DEALS WITH the Earth and its life; especially the description of land, sea, air, and the distribution of plant and animal life including man and his industries with reference to the mutual relations of these diverse elements." The next edition likely will add space to the list. Geography consequently embraces a spectrum of physical and social sciences from agronomy to zoology. In simple terms, it describes what the environment is like at any given place and time. MILITARY CONSIDERATIONS Military geography, one of several subsets within those broad confines, concentrates on the influence of physical and cultural environments over political-military policies, plans, programs, and combat/support operations of all types in global, regional, and local contexts. Key factors displayed in table 1 directly (sometimes decisively) affect the full range of military activities: strategies, tactics, and doctrines; command, control, and organizational structures; the optimum mix of land, sea, air, and space forces; intelligence collection; targeting; research and development; the procurement and allocation of weapons, equipment, and clothing; plus supply, maintenance, construction, medical support, education, and training.
I wish the Admiral had clarified this statement with the fact that SOF (and most specifically ROK SOF with US assistance) will have a major role in north Korea during war or regime collapse. There will be a huge need for that connective tissue that SOF can provide in north Korea:
“I see SOF as the connective tissue between the populations and the conventional forces,” McRaven went on. It’s the regular Army and Marine Corps units that have the numbers, firepower, and logistics to seize and defend terrain. “SOF’s never going to stop the North Koreans from going south,” McRaven said. “We can’t keep the Strait of Hormuz open. We can’t conduct an opposed landing. We can’t bring a nation to its knees; but we can shape the outcome of the fight well before the battle begins by knowing and influencing the populations in Phase 1, and, once the fight starts, we can provide insights that will place the right force in the right place at the right time.”
But the Admiral does give the right cautionary note to policy makers and strategists who would place too much emphasis on SOF as the silver bullet because it is not.
But also important is this statement from a friend and former director of SAMS:
And, if you really think it through human, cyber, land translates into moral, mental, physical, which backs us into the Clausewitzian Trinity. Funny how everything ties up into a nice little package
AUSA: The word “cyber” is everywhere these days. It’s an all-purpose adjective slapped onto any concept to attract money and make it sound sexier, from cyberwar tocyberschoolbus
to, well, cybersex. (We are not making that last term a link). Cyber and SOF – the Special Operations Forces – are the only parts of the Pentagon budget that keep growing while everything else shrinks. But there’s a dirty little secret about cyber, one that the leaders of the Army, the Marine Corps, and special operators have seized on as essential to keeping old-fashioned ground troops relevant in the information age.
So what’s the secret? We all know that more and more of our lives – from banking to buying books, from sharing recipes to managing the electrical grid – now happen in cyberspace. But what most people don’t realize is that cyberspace itself isn’t in cyberspace. Everything “cyber” – every email, every online bank account, every 90th level Tauren Druid, every streaming video from PornTube or a Predator drone – is composed of zeroes and ones that physically exist somewhere: as radio waves rippling invisibly through the air over a wireless network, as pulses of light in a fiber optic cable running under the sea, or, most often, as electrical impulses in a tiny transistor in a computer.
Guess where most of those components are physically located? On land. Guess where all the human beings who use cyberspace, from hackers to housewives, actually live? They’re on land.
“The enemy’s will, that ultimate center of gravity, remains tied to the ground upon which he sits, upon which he blogs, and to the dirt under his feet,” said Adm. William McRaven, the Navy SEAL who heads Special Operations Command (SOCOM), speaking Wednesday at the Association of the Army’s annual conference here. “We can launch a hundred TLAMs [Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles], a thousand TLAMS, and I’m not sure that’s going to fundamentally change the enemy’s will,” McRaven said.
Cyberspace operations don’t eliminate the need for ground troops any more than precision-guided missiles do, the admiral went on. In a whirlwind tour of Robert Kaplan’s book The Revenge of Geography – as well as Carl von Clausewitz, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and Giulio Douhet, the three seminal theorists of land, sea, and air warfare respectively – McRaven warned: “Some of the strategists, some of the futurists, want to point to the importance of the social media and the blogosphere and the self-synchronizing organizations” – for example, the Twitter-coordinated protests of the Arab Spring – ”but the fact is geography, terrain, matters.”
“People have to live somewhere and that somewhere to them is important[:] The land has historical and cultural significance, strategic value,” McRaven said. “If we forget that, then geography will have its revenge.”
The Navy admiral was speaking to an Army conference because SOCOM has joined a tri-service initiative called “Strategic Landpower.” Alongside him on the panel were the relatively quiet assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John Paxton (the Commandant, Gen. James Amos, was at a 30th anniversary memorial of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut) and the Army’s passionately voluble Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno.
Most of the limited media coverage of the event, including the official Army News Service story, emphasized Odierno’s shot across the bow of those who would slash old-fashioned ground forces to free up funds for air, sea, space, and cyber. “There are a lot of intellectuals out there who believe land power is obsolete,” he said. “It is naïve and in fact, in my mind, it is a dangerous thought.” US News even headlined its story “Army Chief Chafes at New Reliance on Technology.”
But Odierno’s full argument, which was backed up forcefully by McRaven, is considerably subtler and more interesting. “There are three things that I think intersect,” Odierno said. “I’m not sure quite how they intersect yet – what it means tactically, operationally, and strategically,” he added with his typical frankness, “but I know they are intersecting”: human beings, the online world in which humans increasingly interact with one another, and the physical terrain on which they live.
“The intersection of land domain, the human domain, and the cyber domain in the future is really important for us to be successful in the future security environment,” Odierno lamented, “and yet nobody wants to talk about it.”
Information technology is changing that security environment in ways that go far beyond precision-guided missiles and command-and-control networks. When I first went into Iraq [in 2003], I don’t know the exact number, but there was like a thousand cell phones in Iraq, and that was all in the leadership of Iraq,” Odierno said. “When we left [in 2011], there was millions and millions.”
(Continued at the link below)