The Military Geography Subject Group aspires to empower students with
knowledge and skills that will assist them with decision making relevant to the
African military milieu. The importance placed on military geographic
education is seen in the fact that Military Geography is included as part of
the subject matter in four of the six undergraduate academic programs presented
at the Military Academy. A strong environmental
component in the course instils the soldier with the necessary regard for the
environment in which he or she will operate, so that the harmful effects of
military operations on the environment may be limited and tactical advantages
In the first year students are introduced to the natural world with all its
internal processes, physical features, weather systems and climate.
Topographic and cartographic skills are taught and refined so that students
understand maps. Students are taught how to extract data from maps and
how to represent this data in the form of figures, diagrams and reports.
Second year geography students are exposed to a study of the natural
environment, environmental issues and the impact that military operations have
on the environment in general. Following a more specific approach
students are also oriented in terms of the physical environment in which they
will operate, particularly during peace keeping and safekeeping operations; in
Sub-Saharan Africa. Knowledge of the Sub-Saharan African physical and
human landscapes is of vital importance to the soldiers of the SANDF.
Military Geography students are therefore also educated about cultural,
historical, medical, economic, developmental, social and political issues
facing Sub-Saharan Africa. Understanding these issues will enhance the
soldier’s insight of the broader context of happenings in the sub-continent.
The final year focuses on the technological side of modern geography.
During the first semester students are introduced to Geographic Information
Systems (GIS). Here students are taught the fundamental concepts of
geographic information science and venture into spatial analysis. The
module also has a strong hands-on component during which the students learn how
to use ArcGIS to capture, store, retrieve, manipulate, query and display
digital geographic data. In the final semester remote sensing skills are
presented to the final year students as part of Military Terrain
Analysis. Military Terrain Analysis focuses on terrain of military
importance. After successfully completing the module the student will be able
to interpret, analyse and evaluate the way terrain influences military
activities in support of strategic and tactical decisions. Such students
will also be proficient in the classification and interpretation of remotely
Successful final year students who wish to continue with post-graduate studies,
have the option to follow the Honours in Military Geography degree.
Environmental management and political geography in South Africa and GIS are revisited
in greater depth at this level. A module in geographic thought and methodology
teaches the student how and where Geography fits into the world of the sciences
and furthers the student’s understanding of geography. The honours
students also undertake a research project in which they are introduced to the
theoretical and practical world of scientific research writing.
A Masters in Military Geography is presented by arrangement with available
staff. The Department specifically encourages research topics on
military-related issues and is at present engaged in research on the impacts of
geographic factors on the outcomes of war. In this degree students are taught
the essence of environmentally responsible defence. The students are immersed
in topics like military integrated environmental management, environmental
considerations in military operations and sustainable military training area management,
in order to grasp the concept of environmentally responsible defense.
Finally a research thesis is written in which the master’s student draws upon
all his/her acquired knowledge and geographic skills to conduct in depth
scientific research on a military related geographic problem.