Interview with Brig. Gen. Schmidt-Bleker, Director, Bundeswehr Geoinformation Office (BGIO), Germany
I. GIS is becoming the basis of most decisions in-theatre and in HQ. How will GIS change the way generals and soldiers make decisions? Which parts of the defence organisation will adopt it first and which last?
I guess, this is true especially for higher formations. At the tactical level, hardcopy maps and simple displays of softcopy mapping will probably remain in use for decision making for quite a while, especially under conditions where electronic equipment might fail.
I think, that first of all specialists/ analysts will use GIS to create products tailored to the need of their commander. Most users will probably still use display systems with very limited GIS technology and easy to use analysis like Google earth as network enabled or standalone systems.
II. With the quantity of imagery and information growing every day, how do you see the defence geospatial intelligence function changing/coping with its key tasks?
GEOINT from the German Perspective is the outcome of the combination of quality-assured geospatial information with verified feature data of the military intelligence or other intelligence sources for compliance with a requirement. Geospatial Intelligence consists of imagery intelligence and geospatial information.
From the German point of view not all georeferenced information is geospatial intelligence. Our approach is different - we try to take all geo-scientific related subjects into consideration in order to provide coordinated in-depth analysis to the Commander. This is far more than just Geospatial or geospatial intelligence. We favor the recognised environmental picture as the geoscientific - or if you wish GEOMETOC - contribution.
The amount of imagery that we already have in operations probably meets the requirements - at least from the geospatial (or GEOMETOC or environmental) perspective, also the current available resolution is sufficient for Geo.
The issue is more - what information do we get out of it - and of course the distribution of the "common geospatial framework" which also includes imagery of certain types as the authoritative datasource for planning, conduct and coordination of operations. One main task certainly is to manage the data and provide it in the right format to all forces on the ground.
Another issue is the releaseability of imagery in the context of the Comprehensive Approach. An image itself is not sufficient - we should be able to give evaluated information out of it.
Therefore we see the future not in ever more or newer update cycles of imagery but in improvements of controlled quality to ensure fighting off the same map as required from theatres.
Maybe there is a requirement to update imagery very rapidly in the field in support of tactical operations e.g. drag a recent image over a quality assured datasource in order to get the spatial orientation of the reference data and the accuracy of the image very quick.
III. Human Terrain Analysis is quickly becoming a new buzzword in geoint.How do you see it helping the in-theatre operations? How has it affected your job?
The German perspective on Human Terrain Analysis is different from the US-perspective and not a task for the German Bundeswehr GeoInformation Service. However I can say that Germany is pursuing a comprehensive approach that is slightly different to the COIN-concept.
The German ethnological approach cannot be compared with the US approach.In RC North Germany is in contact with the local authorities and population through CIMIC and OpInfo (the German equivalent to PSYOPS). The German "IEB" (Interkultureller Einsatzberater - intercultural and political mission adviser) belongs to the German PSYOPS organisation and is organised in a different way to a Human Terrain Team.
Bundeswehr GeoInformation Service task is to support this organsiation with geospatial support and basic geographic and ethnic information and we receive updates of our contribution from theatre.
IV. Geo capabilities will soon become the basis of every command and control operation in every defence organisation. Will that change things dramatically?
The aim of Geospatial Support is to ensure fighthing off the same map. That includes designated data-sets for C2-systems. Some major issues are:
- proper database-management
- supporting network C2 systems as well as standalone systems like handheld devices with limited storage capability for the required Geospatial Information
- standardisation in the digital geo-world
- coordinated data collection of geo-data by non-Geo Staff to enhance the geospatial database
The latter point becomes especially and increasingly important when we see the last negative experience that we had to face in Afghanistan.
We have very often had standardisation issues in the past. Designated geospatial datasets could not be read by the C2-systems. Standardisation might be a way out of that.
V. If you had a magic wand and could change only one thing in the way Geoint world operates, what would you do?
I wish we had a much broader approach throughout NATO than just the stove-piped support to one customer such as the intelligence community.
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