Stellenbosch, 2017

The 12th International Conference on Military Geosciences (ICMG) was hosted in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Theme: The scope, reach, and impact of Military Geoscience

The theme of the conference was “The scope, reach and impact of Military Geosciences”. With this deliberately broad theme the organisers aimed to host a conference celebrating the diversity of research avenues explored by Military Geoscientists, as well as the impact this research has on military activities in the broadest possible sense.


Report on the 12th International Conference on Military Geosciences, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The 12th International Conference on Military Geosciences was held at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) from 18 to 23 June 2017. The conference was followed by a Battlefield tour to Kwa-Zulu Natal from 24 to 30 June 2017.

Forty Eight delegates from Angola, Austria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States and South Africa attended the 12th International Conference on Military Geosciences. It was the first time in the 24 years history of the conference that it was presented outside of Europe or North America. The theme of the conference was ‘The scope, reach and impact of Military Geosciences’, and it celebrated the diversity of military geospatial issues investigated by members of the Association.

Marko Bulmer, Goran Kniewald and Jacques Bezuidenhout at the welcoming function

On Sunday, 18 June, the welcoming function took place at the STIAS convention centre. Here delegates had the opportunity to relax, meet old acquaintances and make new ones prior to the start of the academic programme.

The conference was opened by Professor Sam Tshehla, Dean of the Faculty of Military Science of Stellenbosch University, housed at the South African Military Academy in Saldanha.  This was followed by a captivating overview of the history of the IAMG by Dr Edward P.F. (Ted) Rose, President of the IAMG.  The keynote address was delivered by Professor Mike Meadows, Secretary-General and Treasurer of the International Geographical Union, and Past President of both the Society of South African Geographers and the Southern African Society for Quaternary Research. The Master of Ceremonies for the Conference was Captain (SAN) Mark Blaine.

After the opening session the first two sessions on Military Environmental Management and the influence of climate and terrain on military operations in Africa followed. These two sessions was chaired by Eric McDonald and Hermann Häusler, respectively.  A Poster session concluded the academic program of the first day.

The Monday evening saw delegates heading off to Koelenhof wine farm, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. A wine tasting and meal of soup and “roosterkoek”, a South African bread “braaied” or barbecued over coals from a wood fire was enjoyed by all. After some more wine the group returned to their hotels – some more reluctantly than others!

The Tuesday program started by a session on Military Geology (chaired by Alexander Stewart) followed by a session on Physical Military Geoscience, chaired by Andy Lohman.  After lunch a session on Historical Military Geoscience was chaired by Goran Kniewald.

Piere Taborelli, Alain De Vos and Jean Martin in conversation during a tea break.

This was followed by the Biennial General Meeting, chaired by the President of the Association, Ted Rose. At the General Meeting, Drew Craig was re-elected as Secretary, Hennie Smit was elected as President, Ted Rose became Past President and Jacques Bezuidenhout, Eric McDonald and Peter Guth were re-elected as Council members. A number of changes to the constitution were also approved. (The minutes will be circulated by the Secretary).

Delegates to the Stellenbosch conference who organised ICMG conferences with Luke Sandham,
President of the Society of South African Geographers FLTR: Luke Sandham, Hermann Häusler (Vienna, Austria 2009), Ted Rose (Past President of the International Association for Military Geosciences, Warwick, UK 1996, an ICMG founding presenter), Hennie Smit (President of the IAMG, Stellenboch, South Africa 2017), Jean Martin (Quebec, Canada 2007), Eric McDonald (Las Vegas, USA 2011, Annapolis, USA 2015), Marko Bulmer (Annapolis, USA 2015),  Peter Guth (Seattle, USA 1994, Annapolis 2015, an ICMG founding presenter), Jacques Bezuidenhout (Stellenbosch, South Africa 2017).

The rest of the evening was spent exploring the eating establishments of Stellenbosch. It may be noted that some delegates may even have partaken in some of the wines on offer at these establishments, but since that could not be ascertained beyond reasonable doubt, we will not include that as a fact.

Wednesday morning saw the delegates heading out on a field trip.  After a visit to the charming Penguin colony at Boulders – and the impressive granite boulders – we visited Cape Point. After crossing the mountains several times the next stop was the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest colonial building in South Africa. The day ended in the restaurants of the Cape Town Waterfront.

Ted Rose at Cape Point.

The delegates at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.

Thursday started with an open session chaired by Steven Henderson, followed by a session on Military Archaeology and Heritage with Jean Martin in the role of chairperson. After lunch delegates had the afternoon free and then the conference dinner (once again in STIAS) ended the second last day.

Peter Guth, Michael Eisenberg, Aldino Bondesan, Mark Blaine and his wife, Lynette at the conference dinner.

The Marimba Band in action at the conference dinner.

Two sessions formed the Friday programme. A session on Military Mapping (chaired by Aldino Bondesan), and an Open and Student Panel, chaired by Peter Guth. This last panel gave students the opportunity to present their research to a high-ranking audience. This was followed by a closing lunch and the departure of most of the delegates.

A group of 18 people attended the post conference Battlefield tour. This group flew from Cape Town International Airport to King Shaka International in Durban on Saturday morning. The group visited the battlefields of Blood River, Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and Spioenkop, as well as the place where Winston Churchill was captured during the Anglo-Boer War and the Chieveley military cemetery.  On this tour the delegates could engage with the practical reality of the academic presentations at the conference.

Prof Thean Potgieter a world renowned military historian also supported the tour with lectures and on site tours.

The tour members at the site of the Battle of Blood River.

The battlefield of Isandlwana.

On Safari!

Sundowners in the veld at Nambiti Game Farm.

Conference Details

Location: Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.
Dates: 18 to 23 June 2017
Conveners: Cdr H.A.P (Hennie) Smit, and Cdr (Dr) Jacques Bezuidenhout
Sponsoring Organisation: Faculty of Military Science of Stellenbosch University, housed at the South African Military Academy in Saldanha
Advisory Board: Peter Guth, Drew Craig
Presenters on Programme: –
Number of Registrants: 48
Pre-conference Field Trip: None
Mid-conference Field Trips: Koelenhof wine farm, the penguin colony at Boulders, Cape Point, the Castle of Good Hope,  Cape Town Waterfront.
Post-conference Field Trip: Battlefield tour and safari. The group visited the battlefields of Blood River, Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and Spioenkop.
Proceedings Volume: The three publications emanating from the ICMG 2017 in Stellenbosch are:

  • The dedicated edition of Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies – This publication contains an obitiuary of Dr Jean Martin, a history of the IAMG by Ted Rose, and eight articles. The publication is open-access and is available at, navigate to Volume 46, number 1 of 2018.
  • The book ‘African Military Geosciences: Military History and the Physical Environment’ – This book consist of eight chapters and can be bought from African Sun Media (
  • The book ‘Contemporary Military Geosciences in South Africa’ – This book also contains eight chapters and can also be obtained from African Sun Media (