GeoCarta Has Moved

Apr 14, 2007

Mapping a War Zone

The Defense Department recently highlighted the work of the cartographers who map Iraq for the U.S. military:

The team creates maps requested by units who need the maps for specific reasons. They may need a map outlining bodies of water, or other terrain features, or they may just need a more current map then they already have, [Sgt. Byram D.] Faulk said.

Many of the maps the team creates are pieced together from scratch using imagery and data gained from other sources. These maps may take a while to generate, but maps made from information already in their system can be finished in a day, Faulk said.

The map-making process has come a long way since its inception. Faulk said soldiers in his military occupational specialty used to draw out sketches of maps by hand, and creating a map from scratch could be a very lengthy process.

“It used to take about a month to make a map,” Faulk said, “now it takes a day.”

The team analyzes the land, combining their expertise, along with intelligence reports, to outline areas on their maps that may pose a threat.