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Eagle Vision IV Member Returns from Deployment in Mali, West Africa

A map of West Africa depicting the areas of satellite imagery captured during the Mali deployment. The red areas indicate efforts to collect 2.5-meter panchromatic imagery while the purple indicates 5.0-meter efforts.

A map of West Africa depicting the areas of satellite imagery captured during the Mali deployment. The red areas indicate efforts to collect 2.5-meter panchromatic imagery while the purple indicates 5.0-meter efforts.

27 January 2012 -- MSgt. Troy Wilkerson with SCANG's Eagle Vision 4 (EV4) recently returned from Air Base 101 Senou located in Bamako, Mali, West Africa. MSgt. Wilkerson deployed for 45 days assisting a team of Eagle Vision operators with obtaining imagery of Mali and surrounding countries. The team consisted of nine members from EV1 (Ramstein AB, Germany), two from EV3 (San Diego, California), one from EV4 (Columbia, South Carolina), and one from EV6 (Huntsville, Alabama).

The primary purpose of the mission was to downlink and produce satellite imagery of Mali and some of the surrounding countries for the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans-Sahara (JSOTF-TS) and the Malian Air Force. The team's secondary mission was to train the Malian military members on the basic operations and functionality of various open-source GIS related software. The EV team successfully completed the deployment by fulfilling all imagery and training requests.

The majority of the imagery was 2.5m-resolution, meaning that each pixel is an area of 2.5m by 2.5m; while a few other specific areas were collected in 5m and 10m resolution. Overall, 3,010 products were created that consisted of 2,502 electronic files and 508 posters. The electronic files were transferred to ten hard drives and given to the U.S. Embassy in Mali and the Malian Ministry of Defense.

The training provided to the Malian Military was very basic due to time constraints and the language barrier. However, the level of training provided was enough to get the Malian's started on the right track to begin performing these types of operations themselves. The Malian's were trained to interpret hardcopy imagery as well as some basic interpretation of the softcopy imagery. They were also trained to use various open-source GIS software such as ArcExplorer, Google Earth and Falcon View. This training was well received by the Malian's even though they had little to no experience with analyzing imagery and no previous exposure to commercial satellite imagery.

During the deployment the EV team was able to meet all their mission objectives. Much like any deployment there were obstacles to overcome, such as lack of stable commercial power and lack of reliable internet connectivity. Fortunately the team was able to develop synergy to conquer and triumph over each obstacle and barrier that was placed in their way. Ultimately the deployment was a huge success and a great experience for the EV operators and Malian people.