Terrain and Tactics

Terrain and Tactics

Terrain and Tactics

Terrain and Tactics

Synopsis

O'Sullivan offers a unique geographical look at military strategy and tactics, focusing on recent warfare and weighing the balance of advantage for combatants in different geographic settings. He surveys the global variety of physical habitats from a military viewpoint, provides a geography of war since 1945, and analyzes a selection of ancient and modern battles in developing a set of classical tactical ploys. Also explored are a broad range of modern weapons and tactics, guerrilla operations and urban warfare, and the details of the British Army/IRA conflict.

Excerpt

War is the usual and all too frequent means of resolving political conflicts. Wars are almost invariably about who controls what territory. Whether the fight be civil or between nations, it usually involves turf and, thus, geography. While political geography addresses the causes of these conflicts, military geography consists of the use of geographical knowledge in describing and analyzing the employment of armed force. Although geographers have provided advice and expertise for war, the object of this book is not to tell soldiers how to win. The attitude adopted is analytic and academic rather than prescriptive and partisan. The objective is to weigh the balance of advantage for combatants in different geographic settings, taking as material and impersonal a viewpoint as possible. The moral hope underlying this endeavor is that war will prove futile, that the benefit of the outcome will prove to be swamped by the enormous cost in lives and resources inevitably involved. It is toward those measurements and judgments that what is offered here contributes.

The geographer's viewpoint concentrates attention on the significance of location, distance, landscape and climate in determining the outcome of war. There is, of course, a long history of the application of geographical skills to military purposes. Much geographical exploration was done for this purpose. Topographic mapmaking emerged to serve artillery needs. The foundation of descriptive, regional geography was laid by naval intelligence services. The geographer's chief tool, the map, remains the premier instrument of military intelligence, decision and command. Intelligence on geographical conditions is fundamental to tactical or strategic success. Field Marshal Montgomery credited victory in battle to "transportation, administration and geography."

Besides this service of military needs, geographers have described in a scholarly vein the foundations and disposition of military might and its . . .

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