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Geospatial teams.

NTC is undergoing a tremendous change that makes up the contemporary operating environment (COE). New urban areas have been built to address and identify the challenge that today's soldier might encounter in deployments for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In the past, units have looked at urban areas as obstacles and have chosen to bypass them. However, this paradigm no longer applies.

During stability operations and support operations (SOSO), units must enter towns to conduct cordon-and-search or attack missions, establish checkpoints within population centers, or conduct raids on possible paramilitary camps in and around towns. Commanders require that terrain experts (geospatial analysts) conduct thorough analyses of the terrain surrounding population centers as well as analyze the urban terrain enabling commanders to "see the terrain."

In October 2003, the first military occupational speciality (MOS) 21U40 geospatial analyst (formerly MOS 81T topographic analyst and MOS 81Q terrain analyst) team trainer arrived at NTC. This is the first time in the history of NTC that a geospatial analyst observer-controller has been on permanent staff in the Operations Group.

Geospatial Team Trends

Most brigades or units of action (UA) deploy to NTC with a four-soldier geospatial team. Based on observations over the past six months, there are trends that units with these teams must address in order to better take advantage of this capability:

Trend No. 1: Modified combined obstacle overlays (MCOOs) are inadequate.

Recommendation: Use the Digital Topographic Support System (DTSS) to build and update the MCOO and use in predeployment training at the home station. Subordinate units must then provide feedback (bottom-up refinement) to geospatial teams based on observations "on the ground" so that the MCOO is continually updated and more accurate for the planning of future operations. Figure 1 is a sample of a MCOO developed on a DTSS by a rotational unit.


Trend No. 2: Brigade combat team (BCT) and UA staffs lack an understanding of geospatial team capabilities.

Recommendation: Incorporate geospatial teams into BCT/UA training as soon as possible at home station before deployment. This will allow the team to participate in as many planning processes as possible, enabling the staffs to recognize their capabilities and integrate them more fully. Figure 2 is an example of the geospatial team capabilities.


Trend No. 3: BCTs and UAs have no standard operating procedures (SOPs) for "by-mission-type" terrain products.

Recommendation: Develop SOPs so that geospatial teams know exactly what products they must produce for certain mission types. Figure 3 provides a list of terrain products for the SOSO missions alluded to earlier in these notes.






With the ever-changing COE, it is more critical now than ever that geospatial teams are trained and capable of enabling commanders and staffs to see the terrain. Through proper training on the DTSS, integration with brigade and UA staffs, and development of SOPs, geospatial teams can provide relevant input into SOSO or combat operations.

By Sergeant First Class Gregory T. Alston

POC is SFC Gregory T. Alston (SW03C), (760) 380-7040 or DSN 470-7040, e-mail <>.
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Title Annotation:CTC Notes; military engineering
Author:Alston, Gregory T.
Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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