Analyzing Your Ground

An example, courtesy of the Lizard Farmer.

Much goodness there, so browse about there.

Tempus fugit.

15 responses to “Analyzing Your Ground

  1. Prairie Fire

    Inside that first link, is a better one, it’s worth the time.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Got maps? Gobs and bunches of them, showing large and small areas of your AO? How about a regional aeronautics chart? Might be a fine idea to have maps in this era of tribalism. Paper maps trump excuses of dead GPS units, or… the horror… a denial of GPS service.

    With the maps, should be some sort of portable case to carry what’s needed, that case will be variable. The old USGI canvas case is a good compromise, but not something to be carried on body, it’s a truck thing. It’s a real nice map case, find one, they used to get issued down to a fairly low level in housecat units. Buy acetate document protectors to put the maps in for their protection. Chart on the acetate in grease pencil (old school) or erasible marker so as not to put marks on a map, bad juju there.

    Buy a little plastic ruler to extend map scales and run azimuths along, many compass scales don’t allow for much distance, so a ruler is handy. Get several USGI map protractors if you can find them, they are handy but brittle. Those protractors are pretty much necessary if you use a lensatic or artillery compass to get around, if using a Silva/Brunton type they are not as necessary.

    A throwaway compass (third or fourth, depending) is nice to keep with the map case along with the ruler. Just a simple orienteering compass with a scale. Being a cheap compass, the scale won’t be long, but the ruler will help extend that to be useable on a map for running azimuths. And if you are running multiple compasses in different locations for different needs: the checking of them all together in one place during preparatory times is a good thing, needles should all point in the same direction.

    I have not gotten into GPS just as my elders have not gotten into the internet. Call the above old school and outdated… but ignoring it is your choice.

  2. Ah, land nav.

    It’s a whole different game at night, btw, when strict light discipline is observed.

    Train as you fight.



    • Prairie Fire

      All I know is the old right-angle flashlights. One time when I appeared mine out of a name-marked case, and the light marked with my name, it got a high-up person here to wondering, he’d never seen one.

      Those old lights, they came with some extra filters. The red filter was a hard thing for seeing contour lines on a map, but if you put a little hole in the red lens, towards the outside of it, you were enabled to see the brown lines on the maps much better.

      • The hardest land nav course I ever did was with the 10th Mtn at night, sans NODs. Strictly angle lights,- ponchos and waterproof bags to hide the light.

        There was some moon, and a bit of snow. Just enough to make you stand out if you used dead-reckoning, straight line azimuth travel and walked in the open, where OPFOR was waiting. With NODs.

        Land nav is WAY more fun with OPFOR.

        Being the technologically inferior team is not fun at all.

        • The Imperial Japanese Army in WWII

          “Land nav is WAY more fun with OPFOR. Being the technologically inferior team is not fun at all.”

          We respectfully disagree.

  3. Pilgrim's Pride

    Serious question, deadly serious:

    Does any of this matter in the Age of Drones?

    • Prairie Fire

      Yes +2. To start with, resources are finite. Plus, capabilities do get degraded for one reason or another.

      • Pilgrim's Pride

        Understood. Also, occurs that it’s useful for other purposes too, something short of EFAD.

  4. For your recreational, hunting, camping needs, know how far you need to hump your backpack, or…..whatever:

    Google Earth>Tools>Ruler>Line>Inches,Feet,Yards,Meters,Kilometers,Miles
    Lon/Lat, Elevation
    go to:
    Maps, Imagery, and Publications tab>Maps>Download digital topo maps the US Topo>Download Maps (Map Store)>Map Locator & Downloader. Follow Page Instructions, Navigate, Mark Points, Click Balloon, Download column, select map, Download Map. Your tax dollars at work.

  5. Download Google Earth, do screen captures of your area, or the area you plan to retreat to.

    For example, my area is rural, hilly, and laced with ATV trails which aren’t on any map. I can e&e to a neighbors reinforced location cross country via ATV and it’s trailer which can hold 2500 lbs. of people and stuff. The current sat photos Google is using for my AO are from late February 2012.

  6. Grenadier1

    I will point the more advanced technically to a free download of software called “Falconview”. You will have to fetch maps for it but it is a very powerful mapping tool and can export to Google earth. You will be able to take advantage of all the mapping work your tax dollars have paid for as it will digest GIS and a mass of other geo file types. Odds are your state will have a server online somewhere that will supply several layers of data that can be loaded to it. It is not for those that get easily frustrated with setting up software but once its in place and the map files constructed it is amazing. It is used by the .mil types to plan air operations. The free version is scrubed of some of the route planning functionality but its still very powerful. As an example of its capabilities. I have the location of every bridge, road, dam and railline in my state. The majority of the bridges /dams are not visable on normal maps even USGS Quads. Many private industries utilize the same file types that the .gov uses so if those are available they can be loaded. For example a SHAPE file of all the powerlines owned by a power company could be leaked to FREEFOR and added to the system.

  7. Grenadier1

    Oh yeah also the location of every FCC registered transmitter tower in my state as well. Data is a powerful thing!

  8. Powerlines (broken out by type), power substations, transmitters, gas pipelines, roads, railroads, tanks, fences, walls, overpass, underpass, rights-of-way, bridges, tunnels, cellular network stations, fire watch towers, flood control channels, cable-television wiring routes, etc. are the built environment between urban areas. USGS hi-rez topo map with overlay is just the beginning.

    Low-cost hobby aircraft with camera could do a daylight aerial survey at low speed from treetop level to get current images to fill in where low-angle satellite images can’t see.

  9. N’ don’t fergit, NCO types, get your well fed ass out there and do a terrain association walk in your AO, and SEE the things on the map with your eyes. Not only makes drawing your range cards possible, but you see what potential invaders see, when you go out beyond your AO and look inward. And play the bad guy, have some of your people watch you try sneaking in a way that they’re supposedly watching. Take your next in line leaders with you, and TALK about this shit while you do it. And have them teach their people about it, right down to the lowest private. Intel ain’t shit, unless those that need it, know it.

  10. The Trainer

    You can make custom maps of your AO in many scales at and get matching scale rulers and the newest iteration of protractors and other tools at .

    From what I hear, the stuff they turn out is ‘all the rage’! Aerial photographic MGRS grid lines with topographic overlays, etc. All it takes is their printers and your cash.

    Have fun!