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Reading the Human Geography: An Operational Guide to Interpreting the Cultural Landscape

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Technical Report

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Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning Quantico United States

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As Americas Expeditionary Force in Readiness, the United States Marine Corps trains, organizes and equips itself to respond to any crisis any place any time 1, with little, if any, notice. Marines are expected to be able to go now, figure things out when they get there, and begin operating immediately even in the most austere environments. 2To hit the ground running in this way is extremely challenging, especially when, in todays complex security environment, it is not always clear what, where or when the next deployment will be. Therefore, in addition to operational readiness, regional preparation and some language capability, Marines should be equipped with tools to be able to learn quickly about an area of operationsAO once they arrive. The discipline of human geography 3 provides a variety of techniques mainly visual that can facilitate the gathering, interpretation, and display of human information particularly in difficult andor culturally unfamiliar operating environments. This paper focuses on one such technique the ability to read or see and interpret the cultural landscape. Effective landscape interpretation is an art that requires both skill and practice. This paper is designed to familiarize Marines with the processes involved.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Sociology and Law

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