Asymmetric Warfare - Geospatial Requirements to
Counter Threats to Internal Security
Asymmetric warfare terminology dates back to 1975 article of Andrew
J R Mack titled “WHY BIG NATIONS LOSE SMALL WARS”. This is
basically a terminology used in military warfare and has gained
prominence with 9/11 and other major acts of terror taking center
stage in our thought process. Capability of the enemy with hardly any
resources to upstage a prominent military power need not be
debated. The manifestations of these are guerilla warfare, insurgency,
terrorism, counter insurgency and counter terrorism.
With terrorism completely changing the rules of human existence, the
dynamics of internal and external wars have become completely
intertwined. Terrorism has become a perfect example of asymmetric
warfare. Asymmetric warfare thus becomes a reality in the internal
security scenario of this country which has to face naxalism in at least
200 of its districts, primarily emanating from disparity in social
order/failed equal opportunities policy of successive governments,
large insurgency groups in far flung areas and imminent danger of
terror attacks primarily in cities and urban areas are challenging the
very existence of economic growth centers of a booming economy.
With conventional inputs not able to provide actionable data to a level
where results can be predicted or dictated, the requirements of
geospatial inputs is of critical importance. This input can make the
difference between success or failure and also the precision with
which the operations is conducted, the concomitant causalities,
injuries and damages. Undoubtedly a clarity of requirements, the
efforts made for the preparation of such data as it is usually
technology based, its analysis and usage for the same requirements
would provide law enforcement agencies an edge over the enemies.
Complex high quality and precise geospatial data is generally not
available to such enemies.
Who needs Maps? I think everybody does. The Map of today is the
Geospatial information as the requirements are much more complex
yet precise, the demand for which is dictated by ground realities.
Cartography, bathometry, terrain mapping are different tools to meet
the objectives. Herein lies the need for Geospatial Information. As per
DHS Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Geospatial information includes
surveys, maps, charts, remote sensing data and images and aerial
photographic services; and technology including global surveillance,
GPS, GIS, mapping, geo-coding and remote sensing and time scale
analysis of structural aspects viewed for specialist operations.
The Crux of Asymmetric Warfare
The crux of asymmetric warfare is that mobility is more important
than mass, light weight larger brigades with infantry brigade at 40 km
distances, AEW and AEROSTAT balloons at artificial horizons, zone
mapping, zone helix structure for techint and elint are critical factors
to be considered. Technology is worth little without timely and
insightful intelligence & and geospatial data on a useful level of
resolution. Weapons must fit targets; we cannot afford to take out
hundreds of small targets with extensively expensive high precision
munitions. Training of the foot soldiers on digital camouflage is the
essence of high tech warfare of today. Geospatial special forces have
to be engaged to break the psyche of the opponents by geospatial
broadcasts. Broadcast spatial data, such as surface data and terrain
roughness is of great help for planning operational plans and
operationalising the plan. Time and space are far more available to
an enemy than to law enforcement agencies and can be traded for
bodies and bullets. We need to manage our time and space on a real
time mode by giving functional support, operational equipment and
less body bags. An enemy objective is to make us spread ourselves
too thin - yet we persist in starting every confrontation that way.
Geospatial Information- the need?
The urgent needs emanates from the fact that internal and external
wars are getting intertwined. Insurgency groups have been
operational for decades in far flung areas. There is marked increase in
the prevalence of Naxalites it large number of states. Terror strikes
primarily in urban centers in open areas with large human
concentration like markets, critical and important infrastructures and
mass transit systems. The law enforcement agencies should possess
demonstrate capability of precision destructive strikes to take on high
value targets, sever lines of communication, pollute and degrade the
environment, turn large swathes of land as deserts, make land
infertile and make the communication of the opponents subservient.
These are certainly not normal law and order issues or situations and
has to be tackled differently in strategy and inputs. The geospatial
assets are a tactical force and are not an impediment to strategy,
they are a complementary infrastructure.
Conventional inputs are not able to give actionable data to a level
where the results can either be predicted or dictated, the
requirements of geospatial inputs is of critical importance. The
statistical quality control analysis would render large unpredictable
situations as a thing of the past. Methods of analysis shall render
geospatial input as an actionable intelligence.
We are in an age where the lone superpower wields immense
influence at the global level. What finally decides the quality of output
it the nature of assets owned by the country. Today we are
dependent for most of imagery on other nations. Ground
Infrastructure such as Networked Command Centers are to fall in
place for operational requirements. Strategic planning on a real time
dynamic mode for asset procurement needs vision on the part of the
law enforcement agencies. Wrong procurement of assets and
services leads to technological disadvantages. GPS data is critical for
all operations on the Indian subcontinent and thus the efforts of the
policy makers should mark a quantum shift in this direction to acquire
data on a real time mode.
Clarity on requirements is the beginning of the creation of the true
blueprint of geospatial response to those needs making unimaginable
difference in the prevention and results of asymmetric wars.
USA has shown the way and without getting into the mode of
reinventing the wheel, the ideal approach it to replicate is successfully
with least amount of customization. Tweaking high technology issues
more often than not leads to non implementation of high end
technological solutions and mix of hardware, software, licensing,
human resources and loads of other complex issues.
Department of Homeland Security Mission Statement
According to the National Strategy for Homeland Security and DHS’s
mission statement, homeland security covers prevention, protection,
response, and recovery. Homeland security with geospatial assets
provides larger policing infrastructure, special resolution of conflict
zones, strategic and tactical view of troublesome and hotspots.
Geospatial products provide specific geometrical intelligence where
command posts can be erected at short notice, disasters well
managed, indicate predictability of response time and provide secured
Geospatial products and intelligence play a key role in departments’
preparation for disasters and its response and supports incident
The functional cargo bus of the geospatial asset is the image
deliverance equipment on the asset. The lone superpower has ultra
modern optical sensors and image processing softwares which are
four dimensional and provide accurate real time .25 to .35 field of
merit quality images. NRSA’s vision to obtain real time imagery
should compensate for the shortfall in the image processing
Geospatial Information Stages
Geospatial Information Stages
Some applications in Homeland Security
Terrain plays a key role in large number of the Geospatial operations
and activities and the true mapping of the nature and profile of the
terrain is thus the most critical input in both operational and strategic
This technology can play a stellar role in security of Critical
Infrastructure and Mass Transportation Systems and can literally
change the way we manage those. The vast gamut of real information
available will play a transformational role in the management of the
systems. Geospatial Technology provides enhanced geospatial
understanding of a facilities vulnerabilities and speed up detection
and response time in the event of a security breach. Rapid access to
extensive data, displayed in a geospatial medium helps protect critical
assets and infrastructure and ensures public safety.
The information about the floor plan and the structure of the building
can help in designing the security plan for the same. Our recent past
provides for large number of such examples. This itself can transform
our confidence level in our day to law enforcement
DHS Spatial Data Infrastructure
DHS Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI),a subset of Enterprise
Architecture, consists of geographic system software and hardware,
geospatial applications, data, standards, policies, programs, and the
human resources necessary to acquire, process, analyze, store,
maintain, distribute, and otherwise use geospatial data as a strategic
asset for the DHS and the nation. The basis for an SDI is to identify
and organize core capabilities that have common applications and to
ensure the transport of data, via compatible formatting, across DHS.
What will it deliver?
Completing and maintaining an SDI with integrated applications and
systems would provide the level of geospatial preparedness required
to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, strategic assets,
economic base and America’s citizens. It is bound to deliver the same
objectives in India as well.
The Final Destination
Means the level of overall capability and capacity necessary to enable
all levels of the Dept to use geospatial data, geographic information
systems, software and hardware, and geospatial applications to
perform essential functions such as prevention, detection, planning,
mitigation, response, and recovery in order to minimize loss of life
and property from weapons of mass destruction, terrorist threats,
major threats, major man made accidents, and natural disasters.
The power of Processing
Geospatial data cannot be used as on off the shelf product and needs
layers of processing before it is comprehensible to the end user.
There is need to emphasize that the end user also needs a level of
competence to make appropriate use of technology. The power of the
processing is explained with clarity in the diagrams that follow:
Inter-Agency Geospatial Concept of Operations
Inter-agency geospatial concept of operation would help in uniformity
and standardization of geospatial inputs required for different
operations under a prescribed governing structure which would
supervise and also ensure the delivery of such inputs to internal
security agencies. Undeniably put to professional usage, geospatial
support would help counter major threats to internal security. The
exact requirement would be a matter of detail depending on large
number of operations related inputs. Broad parameters can be a
starting point for such an exercise which would be delivered in a
In recent years, federal mission partners have been operating with
minimal formal guidance and little direction on how to conduct
geospatial support to the emergency response and homeland security
operation regimes, relying instead on ad hoc coordination and best
efforts. As a result, previous geospatial effort in support of incident
management has frequently been slow to start or have been
completely unavailable immediately following a disaster, leaving the
“full power” and benefits of geospatial technology unrealized.
GeoCONOPS ensures that timely and accurate geospatial data is
shared. By defining the mechanisms and authorities, the GeoCONOPS
aims to reduce redundancy and confusion and ensure efficient access
to geospatial information for incident management.
Geospatial technology provides a significant role in incident
management. Its uses today include disaster early warning and
mitigation, border monitoring, criminal investigations, public health
protection and critical infrastructure oversight.
Remote Sensing Data Policy
Department of Space (DOS) of the Government of India is the nodal
agency for all actions under this policy, unless otherwise stated. For
operating a remote sensing satellite from India, license and/or
permission of the Government, through the nodal agency is
As a national commitment and as a “public good”, Government
assures a continuous/improving observing/imaging capability from
its own Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) program
Government guidelines for dissemination of satellite remote
sensing data in India
All data of resolutions up to 5.8 m shall be distributed on a
nondiscriminatory basis and on “as requested basis.” With a view to
protect national security interests, all data of 5.8 m and better than
5.8 m resolution images will be screened by the appropriate agency
before distribution, so that images of sensitive areas are excluded.
NRSA will be competent to enter into agreements with foreign
satellite operators for acquisition/distribution of foreign satellite data
in India. However, so far the acquisition/distribution of IKONOS data
in India is concerned, Antrix Corporation Limited (of DoS) will
conclude agreements with Space Imaging Coporation on such terms
and conditions as may considered appropriate by it and NRSA will
distribute as per the terms agreed with Antrix.
A paradigm shift in the thought process of the Internal Security
apparatus, to treat geospatial inputs at par with intelligence, easy
availability of imagery of the right level of resolution, direct
communication between the user and the provider, prescribed
standards and uniformity, right governance structures and a software
to boast of, run by enviable human resources, is the panacea.