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Common symbology is the need of the hour

New Delhi, India: Symbology is one of the most debatable issues in this age where every force aspires to achieve net-centricity. It thus was one of the most debated topics of discussion at GeoIntelligence Asia 2011. Col Alan Mosher (US Army – retd), Director – Strategy, DRS Tactical Systems, US; David Jarrett, Business Development Director, International, General Dynamics, United Kingdom; and Lt Col Rohit Gupta, GSO 1, ACCCS, DGIS, Indian Army were the speakers at the session which revolved around the theme, ‘Human engineering aspects in defining military symbology’. The session was chaired by Lt Gen PC Katoch, UYSM, PVSM, AVSM, SC.

Speaking about ‘Military symbology in the digital age,’ Col Mosher (retd) stressed on the need to have one common warfighting symbology under one MoD standard. “Joint warfighting has strengthened the requirement for a joint standard symbology that enables the rapid exchange of information by the C2 systems,” he said. He then talked about land based symbology and C2 symbology. While talking about symbols, he raised a very important point, “We have symbols in different colours but what if the person viewing those symbols is colour blind? He will not be able to interpret the information correctly.” He also talked about a situation wherein colours become invisible to a soldier when he wears night vision goggles. “Graphics should support battlefield planning and management,” he said. He also spoke about the need to have emergency symbology, “Emergency management symbology provides symbols for emergency response including natural disasters etc.”

Col Mosher (retd) was followed by Jarrett who spoke on ‘Digitisation of C2 symbology’. Describing symbology, he said, “It is a graphical representation of military units,” adding, “It is important because it supports operations and decision-making.” Talking about standards, he said, “Military symbology standard needs to be managed,” adding, “A standard could be based on existing technologies, and can always be tailored according to national needs.” Elaborating further, he said, “A symbology standard is more than just symbols.”

The last speaker of the session, Lt Col Gupta spoke about ‘Common military symbology and its implementation’. Defining CMS (common military symbology), he said, “CMS is a set of rules/protocols which are embedded in all systems and should be understood by all.” He then talked about APP-6 (NATO standards for military symbols) and Mil 2525 (US standards for military symbols). While focusing his presentation on C2 symbols, he talked about various types of military symbols – unit symbols, equipment symbols, installation symbols and graphic control measures. Speaking about military symbols that would work efficiently with the systems, he advocated assigning a unique ID for each dynamically generated military symbol. “The primary purpose for generation of these unique ID is to facilitate exchange of these symbols with associated supplementary information across disparate system without sharing the images of the symbols,” he said. However, he surprised everyone when he suggested that symbology should be independent of GIS. “I think symbology generation tool should be independent of GIS or its area of operation. There isn’t much related to GIS except location,” he said.

His presentation was followed by question-answer session which saw a healthy exchange of ideas between the speakers and their audience.

Source: Our Correspondent