Thursday, April 28, 2005

Imagery usage 
More from the recent NY Times article on Echo company, 2nd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment:

Even some maps they were given to plan raids were several years old, showing farmland where in fact there were homes, said a company intelligence expert, Cpl. Charles V. Lauersdorf, who later went to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency. There, he discovered up-to-date imagery that had not found its way to the front lines.


What in God's name were they using maps for, when the good Lord hath provided them with satellite photographs showing just about every building, and which were on disc and so you could zoom in on any building, put your cursor on it, and get an 8 digit grid, which you could confirm using a GPS system and driving out in front of the target building sometime before game day?

Also, if you're planning a deliberate raid, you don't even have to settle for the satellite imagery. Do a bit of planning and you can get a Kiowa helicopter to take a series of daylight photographs of the target house and surrounding area from a variety of different perspectives, and you can get them almost up to the hour.

Sometimes we could get live imagery from some pilotless drones in the area, though that took a bit of planning. But you can get those drone imagery analysts/technicians to set up their monitors right in the TOC.

I'm surprised imagery was a problem. We used satellite photos almost exclusively, with grid lines superimposed on the photograph, and we could print out as many copies as we felt we could control.

Something's wrong with this picture. Either the New York Times isn't telling the story right, or they're relying on sources who don't know what they're talking about, or there was a serious breakdown in communications between the 1st Brigade, 1st ID TOC and S-2 shop and the 2-4th Marines.

I know the 1st ID had the same intel imagery we had because I saw the photos hanging in on the 1-1ID TOC, and we were exchanging graphic information via secure email and via thumb drive almost daily, anyway.

Something here is just not computing.

Splash, out


We had the Falconlite imagery program down to the platoon level in my company. We could print out B&W letter sized maps at the company and platoon level and if we needed to print out larger maps, our BN had a color plotter that could print maps 48" wide. The program took 2 minutes of training to use and was free for the military. I'm with you Jason - if baffles me to understand why a unit wouldn't have this capability other than either failing to use it or to ask for it.
That's it: Falconlite. I had forgotten the name of the program, but that's exactly what we had, too, and it's great.
I am the Cpl who made the comment, so, to answer your questions:

It is obvious you two are Army dogs. Nothing against you guys, but Army does get a bit more support than the Marines. Kiowa? Not a chance in hell. First of all, we can ask for a bird EVERYTIME we need to go on an operation or just normal patrol - we ran hundreds of those!

Secondly, it was not meant to say maps, but imagery. We were using 3 year old imagery and your guys at 1ID said they had nothing newer, which we believe(d).

Somewhere along the lines there was a breakdown in communication and an obivous lack of training on just about everyone involved; they didn't know who to go to for the up-to-date products, and we didn't know who to tell them to ask.

We too had FalconView. But like I said, it was loaded with 3 year old imagery. We did use what we had and got by with it. We're Marines. We adapt and overcome.


Cpl Charles Lauersdorf
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