System (GIS) play a pivotal role in Military operations as they are essentially spatial in nature The concept of Command, Control, Communication and Coordination in military operations are largely dependent on the availability of accurate information in order to arrive at quick decisions for operational orders. In the present digital era, GIS is an excellent tool for Military commanders in the operations. The use of GIS applications in defence forces has revolutionised the way in which these forces operate and function. Military forces use GIS in a variety of applications including cartography, intelligence, battle field management, terrain analysis, remote sensing, military installation management and monitoring of possible terrorist activity. This article preasent a brief overview of the use of aGIS in military applications in land and sea based operation.
Since the beginning of civilization on the planet earth, Military forces have played a dominant role. Mankind has since time immemorial has a fetish for warfare and this continues till today. Only methods have changed with technology used in warfare, which is changing rapidly with technological revolution, which has not only changed the way wars are fought but has become a key factor in attaining dominance in military power. The battle victory is complete only after ground forces occupy the enemy land and take control of the area. To hold and maintain the control of the occupied land , armed forces need to know the spatial extent upon which they have the control.
command, which acquires the information fast and uses it fast will be at advantageous position in a future war. This was amply demonstrated during Gulf war in the early nineties by Allied Forces against Iraq. In an article in Electronic Today of November 1996, Major General Gurbaksh Singh VSM, states:
"The lessons gained from military history indicate that the key to military victory lies (regardless of military size of the opposing forces) in remaining ahead of the enemy in time sensitive SCORE loop of C4I2 process.
a defending force or weapon system can with some accuracy and sufficient warning find out where the attacker is or what his future course of action would be, it would be easier to defeat him by occupying position of advantage or by massing a superior force at the point of decision."
statement would amply demonstrate how important is the spatial information to field commander or his superior at command headquarters for taking an appropriate decision for military operations. C4I2 referred in his statement indicate Command, Control, Communication, Coordination, Information and Interoperability. He has rightly indicated the importance of Interoperability, which a is very important aspect in the current scenario of proliferation of several computer systems and software systems used in the military operations.
GIS in Military Operations:
Spatial data is of crucial importance to the Military Commander in the battle as it is for a decision maker in planning and development in a state's growth. Ministry of Defense (MOD) in any country gathers data on routing, filtering, analyzing and presenting information for decision-making. The regional conflicts, rapid deployment and flexible response imposes heavy burden on military commanders, their staff and supporting system to keep up-to-date situation on the ground about enemy activities. Visualizing raw tabular data within a spatial framework has many benefits. Therefore digital mapping and Geographic Information System (GIS) occupy center stage in activities as diverse as battlefield simulation, mission briefing and communications planning, logistics management and command control.
Defense Estate Management
The value of this GIS technology as an administrative support is significant, particularly; the MOD holds large chunks of property across the nation. Effective management of the Defense Estates requires significant effort. In this background, the MOD with its three wings of Armed forces is served by mapping both digital and analogue which is consistent and accurate in all aspects.
Use of GIS in the management of military bases facilitates maintenance and the tackling of all stores, which may be found on the base. "GIS allows military land and facilities managers to reduce base operation and maintenance costs, improve mission effectiveness, provide rapid modelling capabilities for analyzing alternative strategies, improve communication and to store institutional knowledge."
In land based military operations Military field commanders would like to know terrain conditions, elevations for maneuvering armour carriers, tanks and for use of various weapons. In addition, they need vegetation cover, road networks, and communication lines with pin pointing accuracy for optimizing the resource utilization. A detailed land map with information on the land use, terrain model and proximity of habitat are essential for military operations. All these details must be available to the field commanders on a datum to match with the equipment he uses for position fixing and communication in his area of operation. Any discrepancy in these inputs may endanger the operation. Target assessment can only be done if the inputs are properly matching with the system used for firing the weapon.Also Magnetic variation, gravitational information are required for sensitive military operations.
Viewing Spatial Data
Most potential users of GIS are viewers. There are personnel right from field commanders to command staff. They need access to a geographic picture, map or photograph to help and assess a situation to carry out planned operations. Earlier GIS packages are proprietary in nature and were restricting the use of data within its confined specifications. A comprehensive database in multi-type data integration background needs an open GIS approach. An open GIS approach allows choice of the most appropriate product for individual users and at the same time supports command requirements to specify an authorised map for operational reasons.
At sea Naval vessels depend largely on indirect methods to navigate when there is no means of establishing their position with visual aids. Global Positioning System (GPS) provides the means of determining the position at sea. Echo sounder provided measurement of the depth of the water below the vessel. Naval vessels will be operating at sea using several electronic gadgets for operations. Recent technological advances have provided the means to assess the unknown to greater accuracy. In the Oceans, complex natural features such currents, wave conditions, sea surface temperatures and tides may prove at times deterrent to naval operations. Using these natural features to the advantage a clear understanding of the complex ocean dynamics is an essential element for successful Naval operations.
The recent induction of Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), on the bridge of the vessels, helps the navigator to navigate the ship safely in all weather conditions. Electronic Navigation Chart (ENC) is a replacement of conventional paper chart, which is used as tool for navigation, provides inputs for detailed information about depth, hazards and navigational aids within the area. This supported by visual and audio alarms of ECDIS provide the navigator, sufficient means to navigate the vessel safely. The display is used to provide selective spatial or textual information to the navigator for safe passage. ENC is the database for GIS operations and ECDIS is the real time GIS application in marine environment.
In addition, ECDIS can be used to other naval operations using additional layers of information related to oceanographic and meteorological conditions to provide the means for naval operations such as anti-submarine or beach landing of armed forces in military operations. NATO is standardizing additional Military layers to be used for operations using ENC database as base data in conjunction with shipboard ECDIS system.
at present in marine environment, the use of ECDIS is limited to navigation and most of the countries are switching to production of ENCs of their waters which itself is very investment oriented and a beginning has been made to create these datasets. It is expected in another five years time, the attention would be towards the use of ENC with additional layers for both military and scientific applications.