GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 96-58
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WILLIAMS, Garnet J., Department of Geology, St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, NY 13617 and STEWART, Alexander K., Department of Geology, St Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617

Thinking in 4D is a great skill to have pre-trained when entering the military; ROTC cadets are a good proxy for this issue. Army ROTC cadets are able to select any major; however, a choice of geology can likely best prepare them as future, thinking warfighters. During seven weeks of summer training, personal observations aligned with geological thinking/skills were recorded. These observations focused on the perceived advantage over others and potential success as a future second lieutenant. Geology-related examples include learned skills such as terrain analysis, proper use of a map and compass, maintaining field equipment, and living out of a backpack for weeks at a time. During this time, 4D thinking likely led to more success as a platoon or squad leader; probably, due to the flexibility and adaptability to a changing environment where there is no “right” answer to the problem at hand. These successes were graded as “proficient” by the cadre and promoted during the after-action reviews. Cadets majoring in psychology or criminology, for example, seemed to struggle to understand the strategic picture during missions, such as the task and purpose of setting a hasty ambush, or transitioning to the defense. This is likely because geologists assess situations in time, space and support, while relying on a pragmatic approach in lieu of an emotional or unilateral train of thought. Geology and the US military have a strong bond, specifically with the recent use of solider-expert hybrids or soldiers who work as professional geologists. In order to have an effective Army, officers with a variety of majors is key; however, more geology-degreed officers would automatically bring the important skill of 4D thinking—paramount in an ever-changing battlefield and world. Even though Army ROTC teaches and attempts to stress the importance of critical thinking, it is up to universities to incorporate this thought process into the curriculum and test their students. Geology does this in both the classroom and the field with repetition and stress on thinking in 4D, which, over the course of an undergraduate degree, transforms the way a student, or cadet views the world. The Army needs every soldier to be a “thinking warfighter,” and with the choice of geology as a major, this can be more easily accomplished.