Geospatial information for joint military operations in the littoral zone
Fleming, Steven Douglas
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In order to successfully support current and future U.S. military operations in coastal zones, geospatial intelligence must be integrated to accommodate force structure evolution and mission requirement directives. Coastal zones are complex regions that include sea, land and air features for which the military requires high-volume databases of extreme detail within relatively narrow geographic corridors. Unclassified, commercial remote sensing data in the form of images acquired from aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and satellites are increasingly being used to populate coastal zone databases. Geographic information systems (GIS) are also being employed to integrate and analyze geographic data for military operations. This study was undertaken in conjunction with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to assess: (1) the suitability of commercially available images for littoral warfare (LW) operations and mandatory LW feature extraction; and (2) the applicability of GIS analysis, modeling and map generation for use in LW operations, providing products that show the possibilities for future employment. With respect to the former objective, results indicate that spatial resolution is more important than spectral resolution for effectively populating LW databases. Large-scale color and color-infrared photos scanned at pixel resolutions from 0.15 m to 1.2 m and QuickBird and Ikonos panchromatic satellite images (0.6- and 1.0-m pixel resolution, respectively) are the most suitable data for visual LW feature extraction and mapping at scales of 1:1,000 to 1:10,000. With respect to the latter objective, results indicate that GIS-based analysis products and perspective scene representations of the operational environment will greatly assist commanders deployed in littoral regions. Military decisions regarding sea, land and air regions should not be addressed independently. Geospatial information and analysis capabilities provide military planners the means to assess littoral zones with an effective and integrated digital warfighting tool.