Supporting the troops in Iraq

An NGA official says the Iraqi conflict was one of the mapping agency's 'greatest success stories.'

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's abilities were put to the test during last year's war in Iraq, which an NGA official called "one of our greatest success stories."

The agency provided files of geospatial information to military personnel to aid with preparations for military engagements.

NGA created virtual environments of Iraq that contained topographical information and included the locations of U.S. and Iraqi troops on the ground, urban and rural infrastructures, and target locations and dimensions.

U.S. troops could see the battlefield by using NGA intelligence for navigational aids on land and sea, analysis of landing zones, battlefield visualizations and targeting needs.

U.S. pilots used NGA intelligence to perform computer-generated fly-throughs prior to actual bombing runs. These targeting simulations included locations of enemy installations and a 3-D view of the terrain, giving pilots a virtual view of their flight path.

Sabine Pontious, an NGA spokesperson, said advancements in geographic information system technology, combined with improved weapon technology, also improved the success rate of U.S. bombing efforts.

For example, a World War II B-17 bomber eliminated targets through massive bombings, dropping approximately 9,000 bombs in a 600-square-foot target area. By contrast, a single B-2 bomber in the 1991 Desert Storm campaign was able to pinpoint specific targets during a pass but was limited to only two bombs and two targets

per pass.

However, coordinate-seeking weapon technology and state-of-the-art GIS analysis enabled B-2 bombers in Iraq to accurately drop 16 one-ton bombs on 16 separate targets on a single pass, Pontious said.

Hence NGA's wartime slogan: "We map 'em, you zap 'em."

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