Geospatial-Intelligence in Tactical Operations and Planning

By Wilder, Matthew | Infantry, June-August 2011 | Go to article overview

Geospatial-Intelligence in Tactical Operations and Planning


Wilder, Matthew, Infantry


Geospatial Intelligence (GEO INT) proved to be invaluable to tile 1st Cavalry Division (ICD) during combat operations as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 0608:. GEOINT is an intelligence discipline that includes imagery, imagery analysis, and advanced geospatial data. Although many organizations consume GEOINT, the National GeospatialIntelligence Agency (NGA) is the lead agency for advocacy and analysis of both the intelligence community and the Department of Defense. For example, GEOINT was used; during the planning and execution of operations in Sadr City, Iraq. At the time, Sadr City served as a safe haven for Shia extremists and offered almost unrestricted freedom of movement. GEOINT products provided knowledge of this complex urban area and greatly contributed to situational awareness. It also contributed in part to the: subsequent 50 percent drop in significant activity reports (SIGACTS) and casualties. However, the time to take advantage of this intelligence is not after the battle has begun but long before - during the pre-deployment phase.

GEOINT in Pre-deployment Preparation

The proper use of GEOINT in pre-deployment preparation can pay dividends that will be realized throughout a combat tour. Training in the use of GEOINT can be scheduled through the S2/G2 or in the Army Training and Requirements Resource System (ATRRS). Much of the familiarization, overview, and analysis training is conducted through the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. However, GEOINT courses are also available through the NGA College and the Army Command and General Staff Col lege.

Another aspect of the pre-deployment cycle is participation in mission rehearsal/warfighter exercises and rotations through the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin. Calif., and Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, La. Often, these are the most realistic training scenarios used to incorporate the use of GEOINT in combined arms and tactical operations. Leaders should make maximum use of the assets available to them by leveraging both internal and external sources for GEOINT products. If these products aren't readily available, units and leaders should specifically ask what G EGTNT support is available to the unit and if NGA representatives are on hand to assist. Some GEOINT best practices at this point include:

* Requesting and utilizing imagery of NTC and IRTC tra king areas prior to the unit's rotation, particularly unclassified maps; and

* Using imagery in company/battalion tactical operations centers (TOCs) for situational awareness.

From the NGA perspective, the agency supports unit pre-deployment planning in three ways. First, the Office of Military Support-Army (OMSA) interacts with, each deploying unit at the brigade level during counterinsurgency (COIN) seminars that are held prior to deployment. Second, through the Military Readiness Directorate, NGA has an active exercise support program and can be of assistance by:

* Conducting project management of exercises;

* Coordinating support with NGA and GEOINT support teams (These assets are described later in the paper.);

* Coordinating manning and collection requirements for GEOINT support; and

* Generating exercise products and collecting lessons learned.

Finally, units have access to NGA support teams that work with the supported units throughout the pre-deployment, deployment, and reintegration phases to provide the full spectrum of GEOINT support. Once deployed, GEOlNT can play a crucial role in mission planning at the company, battalion, and brigade levels, especially when it is incorporated into the military decision-making process (MDMP) cycle and intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB).

GEOINT in MDMP and IPB

Although GEOINT can play a critical role in all phases of MDMP, it is extremely useful in the mission analysis and courses of action analysis (war gaming) phases, as well as in all phases of IPB. …

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