Impact of Geography on the Conduct of War

Introduction

            Most of the early military campaigns were heavily dependent on the ground battles, where troops would line up against their opponents on the ground. Most of them took place in familiar grounds and was often determined by the superiority of the commander, the nature of armor and the ability to navigate the terrain. However, there is a marked difference in the geography in various parts of the world. In Africa for instance, most of the land is dry and rugged. The geography of the North Africa had great influence on the success and military decisions of Rommel, in the war against British invasions in Libya.

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Impact of Geography on Conduct of War

            Before the start of World War II, Italians who enjoyed vast control of North Africa faced huge invasions from the British Army (Ceva, 1990). In order to secure the interests of Italy, Hitler sent Afrikakorps to help Italy to push the invading British army. However, the Afrikakorps under the command of Rommel had little knowledge about the terrain in Libya. Most of the knowledge available was literary descriptions rather than solid geographical facts. That meant the Afrikakorps faced difficulties against a prepared British army, which had good maps and armor.

            The Libyan climate was harsh, and being a desert, there was scarce water and temperatures were high (Zabecki, 1997). Although Rommel had been a successful military commander in his campaign in France, Libya provided a completely different environment in terms of terrain and weather conditions. Most of the military campaigns that Rommel commanded had to rely heavily on water supplied using gallons, compared to the British army, which had water tankers. However, despite the geographical challenges, Rommel was able to halt the advancement of the British into Libya, using his strong Afrikakorps army and general offensive.

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Conclusion          

The success of a military campaign is dependent on the ease to navigate the terrain, the superiority of the armor and the tactics of the army commander. In North Africa, most of the land is desert, which is rugged, sandy and hot. Unlike the European terrain and climate, the Libyan geographical conditions greatly influenced and led to a change in Rommel’s military decisions. His army had to rely on water supplied from gallons, rather the Sea, as was the case in Europe. However, his army was able to halt the advancing British army in Libya.

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