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Afghanistan Coming in 3-D!!!

New Orleans – When the 3-D movie “Bwana Devil” came out in the early 1950s, audiences had to wear those funny paper and plastic glasses to see the special effect. No special eyewear will be needed as troops begin to get 3-D maps of Afghanistan. The Air Force, Army and the intelligence community have gotten together and are producing the maps, the first time the United States has produced such detailed maps of an entire country, according to a senior OSD official. The first plane equipped for the mapping -- a specially-equipped Gulfstream G-3 -- arrived in Afghanistan two weeks ago, Lt. Gen. John C. Koziol, deputy undersecretary of Defense of intelligence for joint and coalition warfighter support said Wednesday at the Geoint conference here. The senior OSD official said today that the plane had mapped 7,000 square kilometers in its first week. The 3-D maps are built using LIDAR (light Detection and Ranging), which has been used for specific tactical urban targets before but never for huge swaths of territory, the OSD official said. [The image is of the area around the World Trade Center taken shortly after 911.]

"Can you imagine the impact that is going to have for both civilian and military operations?" Koziol told more than 1,500 intelligence officials, military personnel and contractors. "This wall is this high. These buildings' dimensions are really this. It's an incredible capability."

The 3-D maps will allow troops to see exactly how tall buildings are, see where the high ground is and what angles it cuts. It should greatly improve planning for airplane and helicopter fly-throughs, as well as helo popups, the senior OSD official said. "In a country where you have this kind of terrain, it will help identify helo operating zones and allow troops to better understand high areas along the road," the official said.

As the maps become available, they should also be very useful to nongovermnental organizations, relief groups and others operating in Afghanistan, the official said.

{Full disclosure: The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, which puts on the Geoint conference, paid for our airfare and hotel.]

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