V Corps terrain analysis supports a warfighter exercise.
Effective terrain analysis pays big dividends to the warfighter. And during V Corps's warfighter exercise, Urgent Victory 2002, effective integration of terrain analysis in the military decision-making process contributed significantly to the success of the entire exercise. With the support of the 1st Armored Division and 35th Infantry Division, V Corps conducted Urgent Victory 2002 from 27 March through 2 April at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. United States Army Europe (USAREUR) and 7th Army provided an exercise response cell to simulate the higher command headquarters. In each of these commands, the topographic units provided significant support to their respective higher headquarters.
The 320th Engineer Company (Topographic) provides V Corps's organic terrain analysis support. The 320th maintains a 22-person terrain analysis section, collocated with V Corps headquarters, on Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, Germany. The remainder of the company is stationed at Grossauheim, Germany.
Important Early Decision
To ensure that the Corps Battle Simulation (CBS) gaming process was tansparent and that the Corps gained the maximum training value from the exercise, the V Corps commander directed that the battle staff base its planning focus only on the real-world terrain. Commands can choose to fight only the simulated CBS terrain. (See article titled "BCTP Terrain Analysis: Unlocking the Mystery," Engineer, August 2001.) The commander's commitment to training the "right way" drove the military decision-making process and reinforced the vital role of the Corps's organic terrain analysis/topographic personnel.
Getting the Terrain Data
In preparation for the exercise, the terrain analysis technician began developing a terrain database for the exercise in November 2001. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) provided foundation data (FD), interim terrain data (ITD), vector interim terrain data (VITD), vector maps (VMAPs), and digital feature analysis data (DFAD) for the exercise area. NIMA generally produces FD to support planning products produced at a scale of 1:250,000. The Corps headquarters required planning products at a scale of 1:50,000, so the terrain platoon added more detail to NIMA's FD and other vector data.
With the assistance and cooperation of the Corps's G2 collection management section, the terrain platoon obtained imagery of the area from national sources. This imagery was analyzed and used to develop additional information about the area of operations. Features such as road networks, bridges, and airfields were added to the FD to create a Tactical Geospatial Data Set (TGDS) for the exercise. By the time the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) seminar arrived, the terrain platoon was able to come up with about a 70 percent complete TGDS.
The TGDS was sufficient to facilitate the military decision-making process during the BCTP seminar. The seminar was held in Heidelberg, so as specific areas of interest and operations were refined, the terrain platoon could focus its production efforts on these areas. The platoon developed specific data for the road network leading to the river-crossing site, the crossing site itself, and the road network leading to follow-on objectives. Other products included--
* An elevation study used by the signal unit to locate line-of-sight communication assets.
* Vertical obstruction maps used by aviation units during flight planning.
* Determinations as to whether or not existing airfields could support military requirements.
Following the seminar and leading up to the train-up exercise, called Victory Focus 2002, the terrain analysis platoon continued to refine the TGDS and fill the information gaps that existed. Again, the Corps's collection management section worked closely with the terrain platoon to secure full-frame national imagery, which was used to develop Controlled Imagery Base--l Meter (CIB01).
During the train-up exercise, mobility of the force was a key issue in enabling the Corps to move quickly to the river-crossing area and then continue the movement to follow-on objectives. The terrain platoon's efforts contributed significantly to the Corps's ability to maintain freedom of movement and enjoy great success. Within the exercise, the contribution of the divisional terrain teams was particularly evident during the river-crossing operation.
The 1st Armored Division terrain team developed the detailed terrain analysis products required to support the Corps's crossing of the river. The divisional team added another layer of detail and accuracy to the TGDS provided by the Corps's terrain team. This layer of detail facilitated the planning of river-crossing operations at the battalion level within the division. As the data was created, the divisional terrain team passed this data back to the Corps's terrain platoon as well, which allowed the platoon to update the Corps's master database and share the data with subordinate elements.
The Corps and division staffs continued to develop contingency plans, branches, and sequels throughout the exercise, which drove abbreviated military decision-making processes within the train-up exercise itself. Often, this involved developing terrain data for specific areas that had not been analyzed by the terrain platoon or teams. The terrain data developed in conjunction with this effort was also added to the master database and then disseminated to other subordinate elements.
A vital aspect of the support the terrain platoon provided to the Corps was identifying locations where the long-range surveillance teams could make the maximum contribution to the Corps's operations. The terrain platoon performed line-of-sight analysis to determine the best observation locations and helped identify suitable insertion and extraction locations. Again, this information was added to the Corps's master database.
By the end of the exercise, the Corps had significantly improved the quality of its master terrain database. The terrain platoon leader estimated that the database was about 90 percent complete and was nearing a 100 percent solution.
Several after-action issues were identified during the train-up exercise, including Strike tactical operations center (TOC) staffing, use of SkyMedia systems, function/role of the geospatial information and services (GIS) officer during the exercise, and dissemination of products.
New TOC Configuration
At the start of the train-up exercise, a full-blown Corps TOC was established. In this configuration, three of four squads of the terrain platoon, 320th Engineer Company, collocated with the Corps Main to provide the required topographic support. During the course of the exercise, the Corps tested a TOC configuration (called the Strike TOC), with a much smaller footprint. In this configuration, the terrain analysis platoon collocated with the 320th Engineer Company, leaving only three terrain analysts behind to support the Corps. However, these three personnel were insufficient to provide the required level of support and responsiveness to the Corps headquarters. During Urgent Victory 2002, the Strike TOC was staffed with about eight personnel on each shift. This allowed the terrain platoon to provide superior service to the Corps staff, while minimizing its footprint. This result confirmed that the minimum size of a terrain team should be about eight (squad size).
The Corps has two SkyMedia systems; however, both systems are nondeployable, and they provide little additional value to the Corps's forward-deployed topographic effort. In garrison, there are easier and more dependable alternatives for downloading commercial imagery and other geospatial intelligence, whereas in the field, the alternatives are limited. Since the terrain platoon doesn't have a deployable SkyMedia system, it is forced to rely primarily on the intelligence backbone to download data from outside the command. Due to the sheer size of commercial imagery and geospatial data files, an independent, deployable means of data transfer within the Corps's topographic company is required in the organization capabilities.
Dedicated GIS Officer
The Corps's GIS officer was dual-hatted as a targeting officer during the train-up. Since the targeting officer duties consumed a significant portion of his time during the train-up, he couldn't dedicate much time to his GIS duties. As a result, there was no one actively seeking out GIS requirements from other staff sections and subordinate units. During Urgent Victory 2002, the GIS officer was able to dedicate only slightly more time to his geospatial responsibilities, with the majority of his time being consumed by targeting. The role of the GIS officer is important. It should not be diluted with additional duties or dual-hatting. Corps and division engineers must insist on properly supporting this mission.
Geospatial Information Sharing
The bandwidth to provide digital availability of all the different topographic and terrain analysis maps does not exist within the Corps today. To ensure that the widest number of the Corps's subordinate elements benefit from the work of the terrain analysts, the 320th Engineer Company uses high-volume plotters to make hard copies of the various products and disseminates them to supported units. These copies are produced in the company's garrison facilities. During Urgent Victory 2002, the 320th was able to not only sustain this capability but also improve its responsiveness by deploying the high-volume printers to the field. This greatly improved the company's ability to provide support, especially to major units subordinate to the Corps. Mine maps and other products were produced and distributed to soldiers in the field. This capability was vital to supporting muddy-boot soldiers during the exercise.
Between the train-up and Urgent Victory 2002, the 320th Engineer Company published the Commander Guide to Topographic Operations. The guide highlighted the products that the topographic company could produce and how these products could be used by various units to support the decision-making process. The guides, which were disseminated before and during the exercise, helped educate commanders on the capabilities of the topographic company and increased the demand for various products the company produced.
Command and Control Systems
An important observation made in both the train-up exercise and Urgent Victory 2002 was the limited ability to share digital terrain data with the digital command and control (C2) systems. There are several problems related to this issue including the use of different C2 systems within USAREUR and V Corps, the use of commercial off-the-shelf terrain analysis software, and the multitude of file formats.
C2 From Corps to Higher
The Global Command and Control System -- Army (GCCSA) only allows raster graphic backgrounds. These formats don't lend themselves to provide even the most basic of analysis capability or flexibility in displaying data. Most commanders demand more sophisticated products than this system is able to provide, so the staff is driven to use alternative software products to track the battle and provide a common operating picture (COP). GCCS-A functionality must be expanded to account for this more sophisticated need.
The USAREUR staff relies heavily on FalconView[TM] as its primary utility for displaying the COP. V Corps, on the other hand, uses a Command and Control Personal Computer (C2PC) to display the COP and report the disposition of the force to USAREUR. Both the USAREUR and V Corps headquarters staffs prepare operations graphics with their respective C2 systems. However, the graphics can't be shared between the systems without manually converting them since the file formats for Falcon View and C2PC are incompatible--as are the file formats being used by our terrain analysts. Corps and division headquarters should use the same C2 system or at least use compatible file formats.
Digital Topographic Support System
Our terrain analysts use Army standard commercial off-the-shelf software programs like Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI[TM]), ArcGIS[TM], and Earth Resources Data Analysis System (ERDAS[R]) IMAGINE to analyze, develop, and improve the level of detail found on national-level products. These programs have more capabilities than C2PC or Falcon View and allow the production of more sophisticated terrain products. Unfortunately, neither ESRI, ArcGIS, nor ERDAS will store information in a file format that can be read by C2PC or Falcon View.
Labor-Intensive Work Around
During the final preparation for Urgent Victory 2002, the 60th Engineer Detachment commander manually converted V Corps maneuver graphics to ERDAS IMAGINE formats so he could georeference them. Then he manually converted this georeferenced information to Falcon View formats. Through a rather inefficient process, he was able to ensure that both USAREUR and V Corps shared at least one aspect of the COP. During the exercise, the 54th Engineer Battalion employed a rather interesting work around for this problem. First, graphics from one program were projected onto a white board. Using a white-board marker, the graphics were traced onto the board itself. The map graphics from the other system were then projected over the graphics on the white board. Finally, the graphics were redrawn using the mouse to trace over the white board. But the difficulty in sharing databases is not limited to player units; it extends to the simulation cell as well.
Back to the Early Decision
The terrain database in CBS does not take advantage of the detailed terra in analysis performed by our units. The database it uses is rather rudimentary by comparison. It can be altered to more realistically reflect real-world conditions, but it would be better if our CBS database used the very detailed database prepared by the terrain teams. This would be especially true if the system were used for war gaming variations of a tactical plan. Sharing a common geospatial database between the various systems would improve the accuracy and validity of the conflict modeling process (war gaming) and the COP--used to manage conflict. The V Corps commander's commitment to train right pays off because the staff is well-trained, issues such as bandwidth and C2 compatibility are uncovered, and the following significant conclusions are generated.
Unify Terrain Data
An effort should be made to synchronize the development of tactical terrain analysis systems, tactical C2 systems, and simulation systems. This effort would eventually lead to a convergence of the geospatial databases supporting each of these systems.
Fix the USAREUR C2 Tangle
In the meantime, both USAREUR and V Corps should possess comparable and interoperable C2 capabilities. Compatible systems will improve the ability to transport, portray, and manipulate information that provides real-time visualization, collaborative planning, and decision tools in current and future network-centric operations. The file formats supported by commercial off-the-shelf terrain analysis programs used by the terrain teams must also support the C2 systems used within the command.
During Urgent Victory 2002, the V Corps terrain platoon was again reminded of the need for precision when making requests for information. The analysis and control element generally provides what you request. If you don't request the right product, it causes delays and additional work. An approach recommended by personnel at the U.S. Army Engineer School is to staff the analysis and control element with an engineer officer on a full-time basis. This would be of great value to the terrain analysis effort and the broader engineer effort as well.
Terrain Teams Worth Their Weight
The Corps's terrain team performed well during Urgent Victory 2002. The TGDS produced by the Corps and divisional terrain teams contributed decisively to the decision-making process during every phase of the operation--from the BCTP seminar through the exercise. In addition, the printed products produced by the 3 20th Engineer Company demonstrated its ability to provide timely, relevant, and useful products to support actual combat operations on the ground. The topographic soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and officers truly fulfilled their commander's charge by training the right way.
Lieutenant Colonel Goddard was chief of the GI&S Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Engineers, USAREUR, at the time this article was written. He is currently serving as deputy resource manager, V Corps. Previous assignments include deputy district commander, Honolulu Engineer District; S3, 65th Engineer Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; area commander, Honduras and El Salvador Mobile Engineer District; engineer team chief Readiness Group Salt Lake; commander, 50th Engineer Company, Korea; commander B Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colorado; company executive officer and platoon leader, 54th Engineer Battalion, Germany
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|Publication:||Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2002|
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