Story and Photo by
2nd Lt. Kyle Suchomski
65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Big changes have been underway in the geospatial arena.
The 70th Geospatial Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, creates a wide assortment of terrain products, like digital maps and aerial imagery, but the unit has the capability of producing detailed analyses of soil, elevation, weather and hydrology data, too.
The company’s 105 geospatial engineers are trained to integrate this data into terrain products that provide a commander with a much more comprehensive analysis of a physical location.
“The terrain products we create can be integral in the military decision-making process,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lester Schermerhorn, 70th Geospatial Co.
Much of the company’s aerial imagery comes from the National Geospatial Agency, or NGA.
“We create many products that are relevant and useful for our deployed forces,” said Spc. Christopher Lloyd, 70th Geospatial Co., “and these products have to be accurate.”
“Sometimes, we need to get imagery or data quickly,” said Spc. Stephanie Knight, 70th Geospatial Co. “To do so, we have to be able to rely on a variety of intelligence resources.”
Since he first started as a geospatial engineer in 2006, Schermerhorn has seen significant advances in the quality and amount of aerial imagery available for terrain missions.
These intelligence-focused terrain products allow decision makers to better understand the situation on the battlefield.
“It’s easier to see a map with visual locations of (improvised explosive devices), than to read a list of grid locations,” Lloyd said.
“My Soldiers are in a very technical (military occupation specialty) — that’s for sure,” said 1st Sgt. Todd Jackson, senior enlisted leader, 70th Geospatial Co., “but most importantly, they’re warriors first. During the past 24 months, we’ve redeployed two platoons from Iraq and then, sent two more over in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Despite these recent deployments, the company has managed to grow and train a fair number of junior-enlisted geospatial engineers into highly-skilled noncommissioned officers.
Perhaps even more astonishing is that this month, the 70th Geospatial Co. has sent more Soldiers to the Sapper Leaders Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., than any other company in the 130th Eng. Bde.
“I push my Soldiers to their limits,” Jackson said, “but they always produce.”
The unit is prepared for operations in locations across the Pacific theater, as well.
“We recently sent two Soldiers over to Japan to support the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts,” Jackson said.
Sgt. Jonathan Hughes and Spc. Joseph Carnes, both with 70th Geospatial Co., were two of the Soldiers that assisted in the relief, called Operation Tomodachi.
“We work with every branch (of service) and a wide range of units,” Hughes said.