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Army Geospatial Center

With headquarters in Alexandria, Va., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Army Geospatial Center (AGC) serves as the ground warfighter’s geospatial knowledge center ensuring commanders and soldiers receive the geospatial information they need to conduct their missions.

Addressing the warfighter support function, Joseph F. Fontanella, Ph.D., AGC director and Army geospatial information officer said, “While we continue to do all we can to provide critical geospatial information, domain expertise, training, and reachback capabilities to our soldiers and warfighters deployed across the globe, we are also committed to developing and implementing the Army Geospatial Enterprise [AGE] that will allow for horizontal and vertical interoperability and sharing of geospatial information, from the national level to the last tactical edge.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Army Geospatial Center (AGC) serves as the ground warfighter’s geospatial knowledge center ensuring commanders and soldiers receive the geospatial information they need to conduct their missions.

AGC provides that warfighter support through a series of directorates and underlying programs that contribute to the center’s mission success. In many cases, the programs exhibit symbiotic benefits across multiple directorates.

As a representative example of these warfighter support programs, Juan A. Pérez, chief of AGC’s Geospatial Systems Acquisition and Program Management Directorate, pointed to his directorate’s efforts with the Instrument Set, Reconnaissance and Surveying. Most commonly known by the name “ENFIRE,” the new reconnaissance tool kit is designed to modernize the collection and dissemination of combat engineer information.

According to Pérez, combat engineers previously relied on a tool kit assemblage containing “multiple measuring and sketching devices, paper forms, and archaic equipment.”

“Imagine recon units that needed to operate with minimal exposure to the enemy while studying a bridge, road, or building,” he explained. “And they had to fill out these forms to calculate things like the capacity of a bridge or correct emplacement of explosives. Now what we have done through an Army program of record is to assemble commercial technology in a tactical lightweight computer that will automatically record input from various electronic measuring devices and allow combat engineers to perform their jobs from standoff ranges.”

Approximately 750 of the new kits have been fielded to date, both to units deploying to Afghanistan as well as National Guard units in the United States.

In addition to ENFIRE, Pérez said that his directorate has also supported the development of a number of quick-reaction capabilities that were subsequently fielded on behalf of the Army G-2 (Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Intelligence).

Another representative example of the activities performed at AGC comes from the center’s Geospatial Acquisition Support Directorate (GASD). According to Daniel Visone, director of GASD, that directorate is primarily tasked with defining, shaping, and supporting the implementation of the AGE across the entire Army.

“One of the underpinnings of the AGE is the Standard and Shareable Geospatial Foundation [SSGF],” he explained. “The bottom line is that we want everybody to work off the same geospatial foundations of maps, imagery, terrain feature data, and elevation data. And the reason that there was a need for an Army Geospatial Enterprise is because, in the Army, many systems are still pretty ‘stovepiped’ with respect to maps and geospatial data.

“If you go into a tactical operations center [TOC], even if every Army system in that TOC has a map or imagery background, they are probably different maps, different resolutions, and could have different currencies. That’s because each program has contractors that load their own maps,” said Visone.

Visone said the goal of the AGE is that the terrain teams that work on the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) systems will manage the geospatial data, load the data once, and then let all the other Army Mission Command systems pull their geospatial information from that content managed, authoritative SSGF.

“You will now have a consistent common operational picture off of a consistent geospatial foundation,” he added. “That’s really what we are trying to achieve through the SSGF as part of the enterprise. And we’re trying to enable it from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency [NGA] at the DoD [Department of Defense] level all the way down to the soldier as a sensor.”

Another AGC directorate heavily involved in warfighter support activities is the Warfighter Geospatial Support & Production Directorate. Directorate Chief Laura Dwyer offered the representative examples of three related programs: Common Map Background (CMB), AGE GeoGlobe, and water resource support.

CMB provides the unique capability to assemble, host, maintain, and disseminate a common geospatial map data library. The library includes the latest and best available NGA data as well as data from other AGC products. CMB Online is a Web-based geospatial portal to AGC data holdings that allows the user to geographically search and discover data, place an order online, and have it delivered via FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, or shipment on a DVD or hard drive, eliminating the guesswork when ordering data for an area of interest.

Dwyer added that CMB is also the data source supporting the Army’s critical modernization activities known as Network Integration Evaluations, commonly referenced as NIEs.

She described AGE GeoGlobe as a 3-D-based visualization (imagery, maps, and elevation data) capability for the discovery and exploitation of geospatial information, combined with numerous analysis tools such as viewshed (an area that is visible from a specific location) and line of sight. AGE GeoGlobe provides the SSGF to Combined Joint Task Force-1 and warfighters in both Regional Command-East and Regional Command-South in Afghanistan via a server environment.

The AGC Water Resource support mission includes the DoD Water Resource Data Base (WRDB) and the Water Detection Response Team functions. The directorate populates the worldwide WRDB with detailed surface water, ground water, and water facilities information to include locations, water quality/chemistry data, and discharges/yields, concentrated in arid regions of interest to DoD. It was actively engaged in providing support to military well drilling activities, analyzing hundreds of well drilling sites each year prior to drilling and providing water resource training to deploying logisticians and hydrologists.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...