Army GEOINT leaders share their missions at GEOINTeraction Tuesday
A variety of organizations dispersed throughout the nation’s capital and the world provide geospatial intelligence to the U.S. Army, and attendees at USGIF’s GEOINTeraction Tuesday event Jan. 9 heard from the leaders of four of these offices and components.
In a presentation titled “Army GEOINT: A Team Sport”—held in Tysons, Va., and sponsored by Altamira—approximately 100 attendees learned about the different roles and interconnectedness of organizations within the Army GEOINT enterprise.
Speakers included Collin Agee, senior army operations advisor to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) for the Army GEOINT Office (AGO); Col. Loren Traugutt, chief of the Army NGA Support Team (NST); Lt. Col. Jacquelyn Barcomb, commander of the Army GEOINT Battalion (AGB); and Dr. Joseph Fontanella, director of the Army Geospatial Center (AGC).
The Army GEOINT Office
Agee, who was initially invited to speak, said he realized it wouldn’t be possible to talk about Army GEOINT alone, and thus invited the others to join him. Though the AGO is located at NGA Campus East (NCE) in Springfield, Va., Agee reports to Army G-2 at the Pentagon. He described the Army’s “sobering” task to recently turn its attention more toward North Korea after about 16 years of a strong counterinsurgency mission.
“We read in the papers just about every day that [North Korea is] a growing nuclear threat. But they also have a very large standing army, which is dominated by artillery …” Agee went on to mention the difficult mountainous terrain, the nearby massive urban areas south of the DMZ, locations of potential military targets, and various GEOINT products that could be used to monitor the north, maintain situational awareness, and respond if necessary.
The AGO includes about 16 to 18 people on a given day, receives much of its manning from the Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), and works with myriad partners, according to Agee.
The Army NGA Support Team
Traugutt described how his NST (one of about 25 at NGA) reports to NGA Director Robert Cardillo in support of the Army. Spread across 13 U.S. locations, the Army NST includes about 25 active-duty soldiers and NGA civilians who are embedded and deploy with their corresponding units.
Traugutt said his priorities for the year ahead are to continue to support the warfighter within Army Forces Command and all divisions as they deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world.
“I’m also looking at starting to expand to other Army units that aren’t just in CONUS,” Traugutt said, citing Hawaii, Korea, and Europe as areas of interest.
The Army GEOINT Battalion
Though it is also has a presence at NCE, the AGB differs from the NGA Support Teams in that it receives tasking from the Army.
“The Army is the only service that has an operational command located within NGA, and that’s AGB,” Barcomb said. “It’s a point of pride for us.”
She added the AGB’s higher headquarters is the National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Va., which is part of INSCOM. The AGB has about 200 employees—approximately 60 percent civilian and 40 percent military.
“GEOINT is underrepresented in the Army and part of that is an educational process,” Barcomb said. “Most of the time when you talk about GEOINT to commanders and other Army folks they think, ‘Okay, GEOINT, that means you can make me a map or you can get me a picture, right?’ [We educate] that we don’t want them asking their GEOINT folks to give them products, we want them to use their GEOINT folks to solve problems.”
The Army Geospatial Center
The AGC falls under the Army Corps of Engineers and comprises about 300 government employees and 400 contractors deployed in eight nations and at four combatant commands, according to Fontanella. AGC includes three program areas: warfighter and operational support, systems and systems acquisition support, and research and development.
For warfighter and operational support, AGC focuses on terrain analysis, high-resolution 3D mapping, and hydrology. For example, AGC helps Army well drilling units achieve a first-time success rate of about 95 percent, and AGC’s Buckeye 3D mapping program has collected more than 1.3 million square kilometers of data in the past 13 years. AGC’s systems and systems acquisition support ties back to the principle of an Army geospatial enterprise, and Fontanella summarized it as figuring out “how the 186 systems in the Army [that consume or produce GEOINT] are going to share in a seamless manner.”
The Army geospatial enterprise and the need for a common understanding of the battle space is AGC’s coordinating principle.
“We bring all this capability—people, technology, processes, governance—and deliver what we call a standard and shareable geospatial foundation,” Fontanella said. “That means we’re all operating off of the same data. The same elevation data, imagery, topographic feature data—everybody, in every place.”
Photo Credits: Altamira