The Neglected Military Skill

Over the past 25+ years the Global Positioning System (GPS) has been transformed from merely a Navigation Aid (NavAid) for ships at sea to a primary guidance system for Precision Munitions, Aircraft, Ships, Ground Units and families looking for the nearest place to eat. . . . And as result, basic navigation skills like reading a map and using a compass, odometer & stop watch to get to/from a destination [or even finding out where one is] are atrophying to the point to where some units won’t even go outside a compound unless all of their GPS or Blue Force Tracker (BFT) sets are working. 

The problem with this dependence [on technology] is that fact that all these entities are relying on a satellite constellation that is dependent upon a permissive non-interfering electromagnetic environment which simply cannot be expected to exist indefinitely – especially if we wind-up in the middle of a war in East Asia.  Which means that we cannot allow ourselves to be lured into a false sense of complacency by giving-up the ancient & time honored skills of navigation on the Land, Sea and in the Air and replacing them with the latest NeSWAL – especially when that NeSWAL can be jammed with a simple $30.00 radio transmitter.

To assist you in understanding the challenges of this conundrum, I have attached four papers.

The first is titled: “The Neglected Military Skill” from the Dec 2012 Marine Corps Gazette which makes an excellent case for the fact that we need to re-instill basic Land Navigation in our Enlisted training – whether that be formal schools, garrison or in the field.

The second is titled: “Back to Basics” from the Jul 2008 USNI Proceedings which discusses the dangers of “throwing out the old ways of navigation”.

The third is titled: “GPS ‘spoofing could threaten national security, Average person doesn’t realize how much infrastructure is based on GPS” from the 3 Oct 2008 NSSI Space News which discusses how easy it is “to spoof” a GPS receiver.

The fourth is titled:  “Jamming the Global Positioning System – A National Security Threat: Recent Events and Potential Cures” dtd 4 Nov 2010 from The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Advisory Board which discusses the reality of interference threats to the GPS and how they could potentially jeopardize much of the US infrastructure if the national decision-makers fail to address the situation with a full set of countermeasures.

I realize Lads that GPS and BFT are here to stay and I’m not proposing that we “deep six ’em” – what I’m saying is that we, as Corps of Marines in particular, and DoD in general, cannot afford to give-up our Basic Navigation Skills because the simple fact of the matter is that they are timeless – and not dependent upon satellites, spectrum or terminals that may or may not work/or be there when rounds are flying at you. 

Click on the links below:

The Neglected Military Skill – MCG – Dec 2012

Back to Basics – Proceedings – Jul 2008

Jamming GPS – 4 Nov 2010

GPS Spoofing 20081003 – NSSISpaceNews



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