View Full Version : Who coined the term "human terrain"?

08-27-2007, 09:34 PM
I am a student at the Naval Postgraduate School working on a Masters in Irregualr Warafare. I am writing a thesis on Civil Reconassaince and finding insurgents from among the population. Does anyone have an idea who coined the term Human Terrain? Let me know.

MAJ Kevin Burke

08-27-2007, 09:53 PM
Check out ""The Human Terrain System: A CORDS for the 21st Century (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/%22%22The%20Human%20Terrain%20System:%20A%20CORDS% 20for%20the%2021st%20Century%22%22)""

08-27-2007, 09:56 PM
The Human Terrain of Urban Operations (http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/00spring/peters.htm) - Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, USA (Ret.). Link to Parameters article, Spring 2000.

Tasked with urban operations, soldiers think of buildings. The initial mental image is of physical forms--skyscrapers or huts, airports and harbors, size, construction density, streets, sewers, and so on. Planners certainly are interested in the population's attitudes and allegiances, but cities are more likely to be classified by their differences in construction than by the variety of their populations. This focus on "terrain" leads to the assumption that military operations would be more challenging in a Munich than in a Mogadishu. But the latter "primitive" city brutally foiled an international intervention launched with humanitarian intent, while "complex" Munich whimpered into submission at the end of the fiercest war in history. The difference lay not in the level of physical development, but in the human architecture...

... though I am sure the term was most likely used prior to 2000...

08-27-2007, 09:58 PM
... though I am sure the term was most likely used prior to 2000...

It was used a couple of times in Cultural Ecology and, I believe, once or twice by Julian Stewart in the 1930's. Prior use doesn't mean that much, since the term is a "natural" for someone who thinks in systems language.

08-28-2007, 12:03 PM
Check out Larry Cable's book The Myth of Conflict. I seem to recall him using that term in the book (Note: I know his academic credentials have been discredited but he has written some thought provoking books and articles on COIN/UW/Vietnam) I cannot be sure because I do not have a copy of his book with me here in the RP but I think this is a quote from his book: "Orient on the “human terrain”. Think in terms of cultural, historical, and psychological terms."