Geospatial Intelligence

With Army's geospatial tool, new terrain is familiar terrain

The Army is using its own kind of Google Street View to help commanders, engineers and analysts judge the lay of the land before moving into new territory and identify such thing as the best routes for troop movements, the location of arable land or the availability of water sources.

The Situational Awareness Geospatially Enabled tool, known as SAGE, provides a layered combination of elevation, terrain categorization, roads and streets, and map imagery, allowing commanders and analysts to anticipate the impact of new terrain, according to an Army release.

SAGE, developed by the Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Geospatial Research Laboratory, is part of the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A), the Army’s common system for intelligence gathering, analysis and sharing.

Designed to have a streamlined interface, the tool not only delivers a picture of the terrain but is tailored to military use. For example, it can analyze the slope, aspect, terrain and roads in an area and—based on Army data and established procedures—match their suitability to 12 vehicle types covering some 170 specific vehicles used by NATO, the Army said.

In addition to letting commanders find, say, find the route through a territory that leaves soldiers least open to attack, the tool also helps plan the construction components of nation-building missions.

"SAGE truly cuts down the time required to create bulk products, allowing for more time to be spent conducting actual analysis," Warrant Officer 1 Robert Carle of the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion said in the release. Col. Bruce Stephens of U.S. Army Japan said SAGE reduced what used to be "weeks worth of work” down to “hours, minutes and seconds."

Available through DCGS-A, which is used around the globe, SAGE has been used by geospatial engineers, GEOINT professionals and analysts to support planning and operations at the Joint Readiness Training Center and the National Training Center, as well as in Afghanistan. Geospatial Engineering Technicians (125D Warrant Officers) can download SAGE’s various tools from the Army Geospatial Center’s website as part of a limited user verification and validation process, the Army said.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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