Explore Military Tools for ArcGIS
In this lesson, you'll install Military Tools for ArcGIS, create a new project, change display coordinates, and add a layer package with military symbols representing the Meuse-Argonne battlefield on October 7, 1918. When complete, you can begin exploring the battle of Meuse-Argonne.
Download Military Tools for ArcGIS
Military Tools for ArcGIS is a collection of mission-focused enhancements that simplifies defense and intelligence workflows in ArcGIS. The collection includes the following tools:
- Coordinate Conversion—Shows simultaneous coordinates (Decimal Degrees, Military Grid Reference System, and so on) in the same window.
- Distance and Direction—Creates geodesic lines, circles, and ellipses. You can select a feature on the map and calculate range rings.
- Visibility—Calculates fields of view from a given point and determines line of sight from observer to target.
- Military Symbol Editor—Creates military symbols and adds them to the map.
First, you'll create a folder to contain the tools and the project data.
- Choose a location and create a folder named Meuse-Argonne.
- Go to Military Tools for ArcGIS and click Download.
- If necessary, sign in to your Esri account.
- On the Downloads page, click the MilitaryToolsforArcGIS zip file.
- Download and extract the zip file contents to your Meuse-Argonne folder.
- In the extracted folder, open the ArcGIS Pro folder. Then, open the ArcGIS Pro folder that corresponds to your installed version.
To check your ArcGIS Pro version, open ArcGIS Pro and click Settings. Under Product Information, your version number will be listed.
- Double-click MilitaryToolsforArcGISPro.esriAddinX.
- Follow the instructions in the installation wizard to install the add-in.
The Military Tools for ArcGIS add-in for Pro is now installed.
Create a new project
ArcGIS Pro contains a list of blank templates for creating 2D maps, 3D scenes, and other types of projects. A map project template includes maps, a project database, toolboxes, and more.
- Start ArcGIS Pro. If prompted, sign in using your licensed ArcGIS account.
If you don't have ArcGIS Pro or an ArcGIS account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.
When you open ArcGIS Pro, you're given the option to create a new project or open an existing one. If you've created a project before, you'll see a list of recent projects.
- Under New, select Map.
- In the Create a New Project window, change Name to Meuse-Argonne and uncheck Create a new folder for this project.
- For Location, browse to and choose your Meuse-Argonne folder and click OK.
Install the tools
The Military Tools for ArcGIS add-in you installed adds a Military Tools tab to the ArcGIS Pro ribbon. The tab has buttons to access several commonly used military tools. To access the rest of the tools, you must add the toolbox.
- In the Catalog pane, right-click Toolboxes and choose Add Toolbox.
- In the Add Toolbox window, browse to and open your Meuse-Argonne folder.
- Open the Geoprocessing folder.
- Click MilitaryTools.pyt and click OK.
The Military_Tools Python toolbox is added to the Toolboxes folder.
- In the Catalog pane, expand the Toolboxes folder and the MilitaryTools.pyt toolbox.
The toolbox contains four toolsets, which organize the military tools into distinct groups. Additionally, other tools were added on the Military Tools tab after installing the Military Tools for ArcGIS add-on. You'll use some of these tools later in the lesson.
Change the coordinate system
Projecting the round 3D earth onto a 2D map creates distortions in shape, area, distance, or direction. Different projections preserve some properties while distorting others, and it is the job of the spatial analyst to identify which coordinate system is most appropriate. The current coordinate system of your map is probably WGS 1984 Web Mercator Auxiliary Sphere to match the basemap layer. You'll change it to a local projection, UTM Zone 31N, to preserve local distances and directions. Both properties are essential to efficiently move soldiers and equipment across the battlefield.
- In the Contents pane, right-click Map and choose Properties.
- In the Map Properties window, click the Coordinate Systems tab.
- In the search box, type WGS 1984 UTM Zone 31N and press Enter.
- Under XY Coordinate Systems Available, expand Projected coordinate system. Continue expanding until you see WGS 1984 UTM Zone 31N. Click the coordinate system to select it.
- Click the General tab.
Currently, the map's display units are set to Decimal Degrees. This determines the formatting of the coordinate values shown at the bottom of the map view, which correspond with the pointer's location on the map. However, decimal degrees aren't used by most militaries. The Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) is the standard geographical referencing system used by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Adopted by the United States military after World War II, MGRS consolidated and simplified a variety of conflicting reference systems used during the war. MGRS covers the entire world and can communicate precise locations down to one square meter.
- Change Display units to MGRS.
- Click OK.
The map changes to reflect the new projection. When zoomed out you can see the distorted shape of the world, but once you are zoomed in to the battlefield, distortions will be negligible. The coordinate values displayed beneath the map view are now formatted using MGRS.
If you do not see the map, in the Contents pane
right-click World Topographic Map and choose Zoom To Layer.
- On the Quick Access toolbar, click Save.
Note:You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S to save your project.
Locate the battlefield
You'll locate the Meuse-Argonne battlefield and use the Coordinate Conversion tool to specify the location with an MGRS coordinate.
- On the Map tab, in the Inquiry group, click the Locate button.
- In the Locate pane, in the Search box, type Chatel-Chehery, Ardennes, which is at the center of the Meuse-Argonne battlefield.
- In the list of results, click Chatel-Chéhéry, Ardennes, Grand Est, FRA.
You map zooms to the location and marks it with a point.
- On the ribbon, click the Military Tools tab.
- In the Military Tools group, click the Coordinate Conversion tool.
The Coordinate Conversion tool converts coordinates between several common formats, including Decimal Degrees and MGRS, when you click a point on the map or type coordinates into an input parameter. To perform the conversion, you'll configure the tool to output into MGRS.
- In the Coordinate Conversion pane, for Output, click the Add button.
- In the Add New Output Coordinate window, under Category, click MGRS.
You'll configure the advanced settings of the MGRS coordinates into a more easily readable format.
- Expand Advanced and add a space after the X, and before the Y.
- Click OK.
In the Coordinate Conversion pane, MGRS is set as the output coordinate type.
- For Input, click the Edit Properties button.
- In the Edit Properties window, on the Display Coordinate tab, choose MGRS.
- Click OK.
Next, you'll add some points.
- For Input, click the Map Point Tool button.
You'll use the Map Point Tool to convert the coordinates of Chatel-Chéhéry to MGRS.
- On the map, click the symbol marking Chatel-Chéhéry.
The converted MGRS coordinate value is output to the List box.
In this way, you can collect a list of important coordinates and export them to spatial or tabular data.
- Close the Coordinate Conversion pane.
- On the ribbon, on the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click Explore.
- Save your project.
In this lesson, you downloaded and installed Military Tools for ArcGIS, changed the coordinate system to meet military standards, and explored the Coordinate Conversion tool to discover the MGRS location of the battle. In the next lesson, you'll create map features to represent the German and American units that participated in the battle. Additionally, you can watch a Military Tools for ArcGIS overview and a Coordinate Conversion overview demonstrating the tools.
Draw military symbols
In the previous lesson, you adjusted your map's settings to meet military standards and familiarized yourself with some of the military tools. In this lesson, you'll use the Military Symbol Editor to re-create the battlefield of Meuse-Argonne on October 7, 1918, by mapping and creating symbols representing American and German infantry regiments that fought in the battle.
This lesson begins with an explanation of the military decision making process (MDMP) to better understand your role as a planning staff officer.
Understand the military decision making process
The United States Army has developed the MDMP as a seven-step, synchronized planning process that convert a commander's order into military action. The commander begins the process by stating the mission intent in writing, which prompts the staff officers to organize, analyze, and war-game the operation. The entire workflow for this lesson falls within Mission Analysis, the second step of MDMP.
Mission Analysis is the most important step. The analysis and reports produced in this step conclude with writing an attack preparation order, known as a warning order. The warning order converts the commander's intent in Receipt of the Mission into the concrete details staff need for the third step, Course of Action Development. The timeline for completing the decision making process depends on when the mission was received and how soon it must be carried out. The American Expeditionary Force broke the Meuse-Argonne Offensive into three phases:
- September 26 through October 3—The initial phase, which was met with stiff resistance
- October 4 to October 28—The middle phase, discussed in this lesson, which cleared the Argonne Forest and created breakthroughs in German lines
- October 28 through November 11—The final phase, which captured the most ground and concluded with the Germans seeking an armistice
The U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division (the division depicted in this lesson) was initially held in reserve until called upon on October 7, 1918, when it was issued attack orders at 9:30 p.m., less than eight hours before the final phase of the offensive began at 5:00 a.m. The tasks you'll accomplish in this lesson would have likely occurred within those eight hours.
Add military symbols to the map
To add symbols representing regiments, you'll first download data that contains layers of the battlefield's geography. Then, you'll add the data to your project.
- Download the MeuseArgonneData compressed folder and extract it to your Meuse-Argonne folder.
- If necessary, open your Meuse-Argonne project in ArcGIS Pro.
- On the ribbon, on the Map tab, in the Layer group, click Add Data.
- In the Add Data window, browse to your Meuse-Argonne folder.
- Click Railroad.lpkx and click OK.
If you do not see the layer, try refreshing the window.
The Railroads layer is added in the Contents pane. These railroads represent a portion of the German rail network, and capturing them was a primary objective.
- Add the BattlePlan.lpkx layer.
The BattlePlan layer displays the location of Allied and German units and their trench fortifications, attack objectives, and unit boundary markers. In the Contents pane, the layer is listed as Military Overlay 2525B Change 2, the standard name for military symbology. To avoid confusion, you'll rename the layer.
- In the Contents pane, click Military Overlay 2525B Change 2 once to select it, and twice to make the layer name editable. Rename it Battle Plan, and press Enter.
- Expand the Battle Plan layer.
The layer consists of several sublayers of features useful in battle planning. Specifically, the Land and Control Measures group layers are important for this lesson.
- If necessary, zoom to make all features of the Battle Plan group layer visible on your map.
- On the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click Bookmarks and choose New Bookmark.
- In the Create Bookmark window, for Name, type Meuse-Argonne battlefield. Click OK.
Next, you'll familiarize yourself with some of the sublayers in the Battle Plan layer.
- In the Contents pane, under the Battle Plan layer, turn the Land sublayer off and on.
Notice which features the layer corresponds to in the Map pane. In this sublayer, blue rectangles represent the Allied units and red diamonds represent German units.
- Under Battle Plan, turn on the Control Measures group layer.
In this sublayer, red lines represent German trenches and black lines represent Allied trenches. The two square features labeled OBJ CORNAY and OBJ HILL 233 are the Allied objectives.
- In the Contents pane, collapse the Battle Plan layer.
Add United States infantry symbols
The U.S. military uses standardized map symbols for operations and planning. In the Military Symbol Editor, you can create symbols for military units and other important features that are colored to represent friendly, enemy, or neutral entities. The editor includes the older military standard symbology MIL-STD2525D and the newer MIL-STD2525B.
- On the ribbon, click the Military Tools tab. In the Military Tools group, click Military Symbol Editor.
The Military Symbol Editor pane appears. You'll add a symbol to represent friendly infantry.
- At the bottom of the Military Symbol Editor pane, click Settings.
If this is the first time you are using the editor, you will be prompted to download the Military Overlay data model.
- In the Add-in Disabled window, click Yes.
- In the Application Settings window, for Military Symbology Standard, choose MIL-STD-2525B w/ Change 2.
- Click OK, and click OK again to add the schema to the database.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, on the Search tab, search for infantry.
Different kinds of combat infantry unit symbols are returned. You may have to expand the Military Symbol Editor pane to read the full names.
- In the list of results, choose the second Movement and Maneuver: Infantry entry.
- Click the tab for the Contents pane.
A second Military Overlay 2525B Change 2 layer has been added above the Battle Plan layer. This layer will include the new units you'll add to your map.
- Rename the new layer Attacking units.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, click the Symbol tab.
You will edit the symbol's attributes to build the appropriate infantry marker. So far, Identity/Affiliation is set to Friendly. Blue is the color for friendly forces and red is the color for hostile units.
Next, you'll add the unit's echelon, a military term that refers to a unit's size.
- For Echelon/Mobility, choose Regiment.
The symbol is updated with three vertical bars to reflect the echelon setting.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, click the Label tab.
- On the Label tab, change the following parameters:
- Unique Designation—327
- Higher Formation—82
Country Code—United States
You've created a symbol for the U.S. 327th Infantry Regiment, of the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division. Next, you'll add your symbol to the map near Exermont Ardennes, a village close to where the regiment was positioned.
- In the Locate pane, search and navigate to Exermont Ardennes.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, at the bottom, click Add to Map.
- Click the map near Exermont to add your military symbol.
The symbol is plotted between two black lines that serve as boundary markers for other regiments. You'll bookmark this location to navigate to it later.
- On the ribbon, on the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click New Bookmark. Create a bookmark named U.S. 327 Infantry Regiment.
Battlefields can become confusing when many units are concentrated in one location, as was the case with the Meuse-Argonne battlefield in 1918. When listing order of battle (references that include unit size, type, personnel, and equipment), it's best to add county, unit designation, type of unit, and echelon rather than a single number. That way, you can quickly distinguish the unit you want from similar-sounding units.
Now you'll create the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment symbol near Apremont. The last symbol was added by searching the geographic location, but you can also add symbols using the coordinate location. For the next symbol, all the information is the same, so you'll only change the label, and then add it using the MGRS coordinate.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, on the Label tab, for Unique Designation, type 328.
- On the Enter Coordinates tab, for Coordinates, type 31UFQ4532760127.
- Click Add Coordinate(s) to Map.
A new regiment symbol is added to the map north of the railway line near Apremont.
- Zoom to the new symbol and create a new bookmark named U.S. 328 Infantry Regiment.
Now you'll add the last American unit, U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment, part of the U.S. 164th Artillery Brigade. Most of the information is the same, but you need to change Identity/Affiliation to an artillery symbol and add additional information about the range of its guns.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, on the Search tab, search for artillery and select Fires: Field Artillery.
- On the Symbol tab, set the following:
- Identity/Affiliation: Friendly
- Echelon/Mobility: Regiment
- On the Label tab, set the following:
- Unique Designation: 321
- Higher Formation: 164
- Country Code: United States
Additional Information: (75mm)
The additional information indicates the caliber of the guns the regiment fires.
- On the Enter Coordinates tab, type 31UFQ4690157748 and click Add Coordinate(s) to Map.
The artillery regiment appears near the southeast area of the battlefield.
- Click Mark/Pan to Coordinate to locate the symbol.
- Create a bookmark named U.S. 321 Artillery Regiment.
- Save the project.
Add German infantry symbols
On October 7, 1918, the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division faced the Imperial German Army's 2nd Landwehr Division. You'll add three hostile German infantry regiments represented by red diamonds, starting with the regiment near Fléville.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, on the Search tab, search for infantry.
- From the results, select the fourth Movement and Maneuver: Infantry item.
- On the Symbol tab, confirm that Identity/Affiliation is set to Hostile. Set Echelon/Mobility to Regiment.
- On the Label tab, configure the following:
- Unique Designation: 125
- Higher Formation: 2
- Country Code: Germany
- In the Locate pane, search for and navigate to Fléville.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, click Add to Map. Click the map near Fléville and west of the railway line to add the symbol.
- Bookmark this location as German 125 Landwehr Regiment.
The next unit is the 120th Landwehr Regiment, which is also part of the 2nd Landwehr Division.
- On the Label tab, change Unique Designation to 120.
- In the Locate pane, search for and navigate to Ferme du Mesnil, Chatel-Chehery.
- Add the regiment marker near the town.
- Close the Locate pane.
- Bookmark this location as German 120 Landwehr Regiment.
The final regiment, 122 Landwehr, has no geographic name, but can be located using MGRS coordinates.
- Zoom out until you see the red line boundary markers.
- Change the symbol's Unique Designation to 122.
- On the Enter Coordinates tab, for Coordinates, copy and paste 31UFQ4265458429.
- Click Add Coordinate(s) to Map.
A new red diamond symbol is added to the south of the symbol at Ferme du Mensil.
- Bookmark this location as German 122 Landwehr Regiment.
- Navigate to the Meuse-Argonne battlefield bookmark.
- Save your project.
Manage overlays and map data
You've added six military symbols representing German and American infantry regiments to the battlefield. These military symbols are point features stored in an associated feature class in a geodatabase. As a result, each of the symbols has related location and attribute properties that can be updated and edited as needed. Next, you'll manage your data and familiarize yourself with its attribute information.
- In the Catalog pane, expand Databases.
- Expand Meuse-Argonne.gdb.
If the database is empty, right-click Meuse-Argonne.gdb and choose Refresh.
The Meuse-Argonne geodatabase was created as part of your project. The MilitaryOverlay2525bc2 schema was generated when you set the military symbology standard.
- Expand the MilitaryOverlay2525bc2 feature dataset.
The collection of feature classes contains the various point, line, and polygon features you create and maintain using the Military Symbol Editor. These include Installations, LandEquipment, Activities, and ControlMeasures. The Units feature class stores the point features representing your infantry regiments.
Next, you'll explore the layers in the Contents pane derived from the feature classes in the geodatabase.
- If necessary, in the Contents pane, expand the Attacking units group layer.
This group layer contains several subgroup layers that organize important features for units, equipment, installations, and operations, as well as for stability operations, emergency management, and weather features. The sublayers and features of importance for the Meuse-Argonne Offensive are all located in the Land and Control Measures group layers.
- If necessary, expand the Land subgroup.
- Right-click Units and choose Attribute Table.
The Units table contains six records corresponding to the number of regiments you added using the Military Symbol Editor. The Affiliation field denotes units as either Friendly or Hostile. These attribute values correspond directly to the symbol properties you set while creating the new symbols for regiments in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
Next, you'll select the three German infantry regiments belonging to the 2nd Landwehr Division and update their Higher Formation attributes.
- On the Map tab, in the Selection group, click Select.
- On the map, select one regiment and press Shift while selecting the other regiments.
Once selected, the regiments on the map and their associated records in the attribute table are highlighted.
- If necessary, in the attribute table, scroll right until you see the Higher Formation field.
The current value for Higher Formation is 2. In this case, you want to add the name of the higher formation of the three German infantry regiments opposing the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division. Unlike Allied units, the name of the German units reflected unit characteristics and capabilities. In World War I, German Landwehr units were composed of older soldiers who had already completed service with the active and reserve armies. Landwehr units were designed for rear-echelon defense, but as personnel shortages increased as the war dragged on, Landwehr units were assigned to front-line combat. Allied intelligence classified Landwehr units as inferior.
- Double-click each selected record and change the value to 2 Landwehr.
- Click Clear to clear the selection.
- On the ribbon, click the Edit tab. In the Manage Edits group, click Save. In the Save Edits window, click Yes.
- Close the attribute table.
- On the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click Explore.
- On the map, zoom to the German regiments.
The labels have been updated to indicate the new attribute values.
Draw graphic control measures
On the morning of October 7, 1918, two of the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division's regiments began their assault. You'll illustrate their attacks by creating axis of advance arrows, graphic control measures used to organize and coordinate battlefield activity. An axis of advance shows the general area where the bulk of an advancing unit's combat power will travel toward an objective. Your arrows will represent the U.S. 327th Infantry Regiment moving toward OBJ CORNAY and the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment advancing toward OBJ HILL 223.
First, you'll create the axis of advance for the U.S. 327th Infantry Regiment.
- Navigate to the U.S. 327 Infantry Regiment bookmark. If necessary, zoom out so you can see both the regiment and the rectangle labeled as OBJ CORNAY.
- In the Military Symbol Editor pane, on the Search tab, type advance in the search box.
- In the Result Count list, choose Maneuver Areas: Axis of Advance: Main Attack.
The axis of advance arrow initially appears in yellow, but the color will change when you build your symbol.
- On the Symbol tab, for Identity/Affiliation, choose Friendly. For Echelon, choose Regiment.
- On the Label tab, for Unique Designation, type CHARLIE. For Country Code, choose United States.
- Click Add to Map.
Your pointer turns into crosshairs.
- Click the center of the U.S. 327th Infantry Regiment and double-click the center of the OBJ CORNAY box.
An arrow, representing the axis of advance, appears on the map.
- Navigate to the U.S. 328 Infantry Regiment bookmark and zoom out until you can also see the rectangle labeled OBJ HILL 233.
- On the Label tab, for Unique Designation, replace the text with CHAPLIN.
- In the same manner, click Add to Map and create an axis of advance from the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment to OBJ HILL 223.
Your map should resemble the following image:
- Close the Military Symbol Editor pane.
- Save the project.
In this lesson, you downloaded a layer package containing a military overlay showing the battle frontline, trenches, and other strategic installations. You used the Military Symbol Editor to create six military symbols and drew attack advances for the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division's attack in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In the next lesson, you'll use the Military Analyst extension geospatial tools to further analyze the battle. Additionally, watch a Military Symbol Editor overview.
Determine distance and direction
In the previous lesson, you created the military symbols needed to prepare the battlefield. In this lesson, you'll use the Distance and Direction tool to illustrate how tanks and artillery could support the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment during its attack toward OBJ HILL 223. First, you'll create range rings revealing whether the U.S. 344th Tank Battalion could keep up with the attacking infantry. Then, you'll use rings to determine whether the 75-mm guns of the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment could bombard the objective.
Create circles using speed and time
Tanks were first used by the British Army during the Battle for the Somme in 1916 in an effort to break the trench warfare stalemate. The tanks of the World War I era, compared with today's, were slow and clumsy. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the Americans were equipped with French Renault FT-17 tanks, which had a maximum speed of 7 kilometers per hour in optimal conditions.
On your map, the U.S. 344th Tank Battalion is located near the town of Apremont. You'll determine how long it would take for the battalion's FT-17 tanks to reach Hill 223. You want to find out whether the tanks could arrive in time to help the infantry overcome barbed wire, trenches, and machine guns. To determine travel time, you'll use the Distance and Direction tool to plot lines, ellipses, and range rings used to compute the distance between two geographic locations. The tool's accuracy is enhanced by snapping, which ensures features are coincident with each other.
- If necessary, open your Meuse-Argonne project.
- Below the map, next to the scale, click Snapping.
The button turns blue to indicate that it is active. You'll also set a parameter to specifically snap point features, such as your military symbols.
- Point to the Snapping button to reveal the Snapping window. Here, ensure Point Snapping is turned on.
- On the map, zoom to the U.S. 344th Tank Battalion.
- On the Military Tools tab, click the Distance and Direction tool.
- In the Distance and Direction pane, click the Circle tab.
- Click the Edit Properties button. In the Edit Properties window, choose MGRS. Click OK.
- Click the Map Point tool button.
- Click the U.S. 344th Tank Battalion.
A snapping indicator ensures your click coincides with the exact location of the tank unit.
The military uses kilometers instead of miles for distance measurements, so you'll change the Radius/Diameter parameter to reflect military usage.
- Under Radius/Diameter, choose Kilometers.
The Distance Calculator enables you to plot rings based on how fast an object can travel. Specifically, you want to know whether the FT-17 tanks can keep up with the infantry and reach Hill 223 within two hours.
- Expand Distance Calculator.
- For Time, type 2 and choose Hours.
FT-17 tanks can travel up to 7 kilometers per hour (kph). However, because of rain and mud, as well as battlefield obstacles such as artillery craters and barbed wire, you estimate the tanks could advance at 2 kph.
- For Rate, type 2 and choose Kilometers/Hour.
- Press Enter.
The map adjusts to show a circle. This circle indicates that the U.S. 344th Tank Battalion is capable of reaching the base of Hill 223 along with the infantry. Your command can increase the range of the tanks by moving the U.S. 344th Tank Regiment as close as possible to the trenches when the attack commences.
- On the ribbon, click the Map tab. In the Navigate group, click Explore.
- In the Distance and Direction pane, delete the text from the Center Point box.
- Create a bookmark named October 7, 1918.
Create range rings interactively
You'll use the Distance and Direction tool again, but this time you'll use it to map the range of the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment from its current position near Mounblainville. The unit's 75-mm guns are needed to support the attack on Hill 223.
You want to know whether the guns' effective range for shrapnel artillery rounds (6.5 kilometers) and high-explosive rounds (7.4 kilometers) can reach both the OBJ HILL 223 and the railroad tracks, the objective following the attack on Hill 223. Shrapnel rounds are designed to neutralize enemy personnel, while high-explosive rounds are designed to destroy obstacles and fortifications, such as barbed wire and machine gun nests.
- Navigate to the U.S. 321 Artillery Regiment bookmark.
- Zoom out until you can also see OBJ HILL 223.
- In the Distance and Direction window, click the Rings tab.
- If necessary, set Ring Type to Interactive.
- If necessary, click the Edit Properties button and choose MGRS.
- Click the Map Point Tool button and click the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment.
- Change Distance Unit to Kilometers.
- On the map, drag the pointer toward the center of OBJ HILL 223.
As you move the pointer, a gray diameter ring moves on the map and the distance is reflected in the Radius box in the Distance and Direction pane.
- Move your pointer so the circle completely covers the OBJ HILL 223 objective box. Take note of the Radius value and click the map.
The gray line turns red. The radius is approximately 7.5 kilometers, which means the 75-mm guns are just outside of the maximum range for both shrapnel (6.5 kilometers) and high-explosive rounds (7.4 kilometers).
- On the Map tab, click the Explore button.
- Zoom out so you can see the entire red circle.
The unit, from its current location, needs to move closer to the trenches so its guns can support the infantry attack on Hill 223.
- At the bottom of the Rings tab, click the Clear button to remove the graphics.
- Navigate to the October 7, 1918 bookmark.
Reposition a unit
Next, you'll reposition the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment to better support the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment.
- On the Edit tab, in the Tools group, click the Move tool.
- Click the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment.
The unit is highlighted and a yellow dot appears on the point feature.
If the red distance circle is still on your map, delete it before selecting the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment. Delete the circle by selecting it and, on the Edit tab, choosing Delete from the Features group.
- Drag the unit to the high ground northeast of the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment.
- In the Selection group, click the Clear button.
- Optionally use the Direction and Distance tool to verify the relocated U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment is within range of OBJ HILL 223.
- Save your edits and save the project.
In this lesson, you used the Distance and Direction tool to estimate the distances tanks could travel and to see whether an artillery unit was within range of its targets. Although the guns of the U.S. 321st Artillery Regiment are within range of Hill 223, that unit still needs soldiers who can watch the target during the attack and report to the gunners as the infantry advances toward its objective. By staying in communication, these specialized soldiers, known as forward observers, can adjust fire so the artillery gunners can hit the intended target with the fewest rounds possible. To do their job, forward observers need to position themselves on high ground with the fewest obstructions possible between the objectives and themselves.
In the next lesson, you'll use the Visibility tool to ensure these forward observers have an unobstructed view of Hill 223, the attack objective. Additionally, you can watch this video discussing the Distance and Direction tool.
In the previous lesson, you determined the distance Allied units needed to be within to provide support to the infantry. In this lesson, you'll calculate a viewshed to determine what the army's forward observers could see leading up to the battle. A viewshed calculates the visibility of an area from one or more observer locations, and the results show what areas are visible (or not) to one or more observers. First, you'll define the area where you want to locate your forward observer. Then, you'll create views of different lines of sight with the Linear Line Of Sight (LLOS) and Radial Line Of Sight (RLOS) tools. LLOS illustrates whether an observer has an obstructed or unobstructed view of a specific spot, such as a bridge or checkpoint. RLOS illustrates everything an observer can and cannot see.
The elevation data used in this map is courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Elevation data can differ significantly depending on its source, so your results may differ when you use a different elevation set.
Add elevation data
You need to find the highest location within the area of operations for the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division to locate a forward observer team. First, you'll add the elevation layer.
- If necessary, open your Meuse-Argonne project.
- On the Map tab, in the Layer group, click Add Data.
- Browse to your Meuse-Argonne folder, double-click the meuseargonnedata folder, click Elevation.lpkx, and click OK. You may need to refresh the window to see the elevation data.
The elevation layer is added to your map above the Topographic basemap.
Terrain can dictate strategy, so realizing the impacts of elevation on the battlefield will improve your understanding about how and why enemy and friendly units move and behave. In this case, the high ground explains why the German 2nd Division Landwehr regiments occupied their positions. The high vantage points gave their machine gunners and forward observers commanding views of the American trenches below.
The various shades of gray reflect the terrain characteristics by displaying the higher elevations as lighter and the lower elevations as darker. You'll change the color scheme so the elevations are easier to visually interpret.
- In the Contents pane, scroll down and right-click the Meuse-Argonne elevation layer symbology.
- In the symbol selector, click the arrow to display additional color schemes.
- At the bottom of the list of color schemes, check Show Names.
- Right-click the elevation layer symbology again and choose Elevation #1.
- The Elevation 1 color scheme is applied, and the elevation is displayed with green representing lowland and yellows and browns representing high ground.
This image better explains why the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division suffered so many casualties during the attack. The American soldiers were forced to move across open ground, under the clear view of the Germans, and attack uphill. The Germans set up their positions so the Americans would have few terrain advantages.
- In the Contents pane, drag the MeuseArgonneDEMZone31.tif layer below the World_Hillshade layer.
The elevation layer, although masked by the basemap, will serve as an elevation source for geospatial tools used in this lesson.
Find the highest elevation
Next, you'll determine the highest location within an area where you might want to locate your observer team so its members can clearly see OBJ HILL 223. You'll use the Highest Points tool, one of the geospatial tools you downloaded in the first lesson. Ideally, you'll locate your forward observers as far forward as possible.
- In the Catalog pane, under Toolboxes, expand Military_Tools.pyt.
- Expand the Visibility toolset. Double-click Highest Points to open this tool.
- In the Geoprocessing pane, click the edit button to create a new Highest Points Input Area layer.
- A polygon tool appears below the Input Area parameter. If necessary, click it to reveal a set of creation tools. Make sure Polygons is selected.
You'll draw a polygon for your forward observers. Within that polygon, the Highest Points tool will find the highest elevation.
- For the upper left corner of the polygon, click the American trench line where it intersects with the Corps boundary marker, marked with XXX.
- Follow the American trench south to the divisional Control Measure line, marked with XX, and click.
- Continue right along Control Measure line XX to its end and click.
- Continue north to Control Measure line XXX and click.
- Continue along Control Measure line XXX to the original starting point in the upper left corner. Double-click to complete your polygon.
- In the Geoprocessing pane, for Input Surface, choose the MeuseArgonneDEMZone31.tif layer.
- For Output Highest Point Features, type HighestPoint82INFDIV.
- Click Run.
A gold triangle marks the highest elevation point, within the area you defined, for the U.S. Eighty-Second Infantry Division's area of operations. It is labeled as 240 Meters. This elevation represents the single highest position within the area you defined for a forward observer. The tool would have returned additional highest points if more occurrences of an elevation of 240 meters were found within the input area.
- In the Contents pane, uncheck the Highest_Points_Input_Area_Polygons layer.
The Highest Point layer is a temporary layer. To use this data in a geoprocessing tool, you need to transform it into a permanent feature class.
- In the Contents pane, right-click HighestPoint82INFDIV, point to Data, and choose Export Features.
- In the Feature Class to Feature Class pane, for Output Feature Class, type ForwardObservers and click Run.
A new Forward Observers point feature class is added to the Contents pane. Next, you'll change the symbol to represent a forward observer.
- Right-click the Forward Observer layer and choose Symbology.
- In the Symbology pane, click the gold triangle symbol.
- In the search box on the Gallery tab, type observer friend and press Enter.
- In the list of results, click Fires: Field Artillery Observer: Original.
The feature symbology updates.
- Close the Symbology pane.
- In the Contents pane, uncheck the HighestPoint82INFDIV layer.
Now that you know the position of the forward observers, you'll determine whether team members can see OBJ HILL 223. Next, you'll find the highest point within the objective box. You'll use steps similar to those you used to locate the forward observer team.
- Open the Highest Points tool.
- For Input Area, click the edit button.
As before, you'll define an area, except you'll use a rectangle to match the size of the objective box.
- Click the Rectangle symbol.
- Click the upper left corner of OBJ HILL 223, click the upper right corner, and then double-click the lower right corner.
The rectangle is completed and a new layer, Highest_Points_Input_Area_Polygons_2, is added to the Contents pane. You'll again find the highest point within the objective box for Hill 223.
- In the Geoprocessing pane, for Input Surface, choose MeuseArgonneDEMZone31.tif.
- For Output Highest Point Features, type HighestPointOBJHILL223.
- Click Run.
A new layer, HighestPointOBJHILL223, is added to the Contents pane and the map. This time, there are several clustered points with the highest elevation value of 258 meters. As before, you'll convert the points into a permanent feature class.
- Right-click the new layer, point to Data, and choose Export Features.
- In the Feature Class to Feature Class tool, for Output Feature Class, type HighestPoint_Hill223.
- Click Run. In the Contents pane, uncheck HighestPointOBJHILL223 and Highest_Points_Input_Area_Polygons_2.
Create linear lines of sight
Linear lines of sight illustrate whether an observer can see a specific point on the ground. You'll determine whether your forward observer has an unobstructed view of OBJ HILL 223.
- On the Military Tools tab, in the Military Tools group, click Visibility.
- The Visibility pane appears. If necessary, click the LLOS tab.
The tool automatically identifies and sets the MeuseArgonneDEMZone31.tif layer as an elevation source.
- Click the Edit Properties button and choose MGRS. Click OK.
- Under Observer Points, click the Observer Map Point Tool button.
- Click the center of the Forward Observer point symbol, making use of snapping.
A blue dot appears on the symbol.
- In the Visibility tool, click the Target Map Point Tool button.
- On the map, click one of the highest points on Hill 223.
In the Visibility tool, the Height Above Surface parameter assumes the observer's view is two meters above the measured surface, approximately the height of a typical soldier. You can adjust the height of the observer, as well as the target, if needed.
- For Height Above Surface, for Target, type 2.
- On the LLOS tab, click OK.
The tool takes a few moments to run. When complete, several supporting layers are added to the Contents pane.
- In the Contents pane, expand the new LLOS group layer and locate the LLOS_Output layer. Turn the layer off and on to identify the line features added to the map by the tool.
The LLOS_Output layer displays a line of sight between the observer and the target you identified. The resulting line segments are colored green to denote locations along the line that are visible to the observer and red to denote locations that are not visible.
Your forward observer has a semiobstructed view of OBJ HILL 223.
- In the Contents pane, locate the LLOS_Targets layer. Turn the layer off and on to identify the point feature added to the map by the tool.
The target location is green and is thus visible to the observer, but the line of sight to that target can be made more visible. Next, you'll rerun the tool, placing the observer at a height of 10 meters. On the ground, this elevation can be achieved by placing the observer on a building or tree.
- In the Contents pane, remove the LLOS group layer.
- Under Height Above Surface, for Observer, change 2 to 10.
- Click OK.
Stationing the observer at 10 meters eliminates some, but not all, of the blind spots. Improving the view of forward observers would help them adjust fire, a move that could save lives and ammunition.
Create a radial line of sight
Your forward observer is unlikely to use only one direction to view the target. Observers typically scan a 180-degree radius or more ranging from their immediate vicinity to the intended target. It could be beneficial to identify all visible and nonvisible locations within the field of view for your forward observer while positioned 10 meters above the surface. This is where the Radial Line Of Sight tool is useful, as it calculates the visibility of an area from one or more observer locations. The results show what areas are visible to one or more observers.
- In the Contents pane, uncheck the LLOS_1 group layer.
- In the Visibility pane, click the RLOS tab.
- Click the Observer Points tool and click your Forward Observer location.
- Check the Symbolize Non-Visible Data in Output box.
- Expand Observer Options.
- For Observer, change the height value from 2 to 10.
- Change Distance to 0 to 5000.
- For Field of View, change Horizontal to 0 to 360.
- Click OK.
When complete, the RLOS tool adds a new group layer to your Contents pane. This layer represents which locations are visible or nonvisible by your observer positioned 10 meters above the surface.
- On the map, zoom in to the area in front of your forward observer.
The color scheme applied to the layer is random. To simplify identification of visible and nonvisible areas, you'll modify the layer symbology to use green for visible and red for nonvisible locations.
- In the Contents pane, for the RLOS_Visibility_2 layer, right-click the symbol for Visible by 1 Observer and choose a light green color.
- For non-visible data, choose a light red.
- If necessary, zoom out so that you can observe the axis of advance for both the U.S. 327th and U.S. 328th Infantry Regiments.
This viewshed reveals that both the 327th and 328th Infantry Regiments would be advancing through large blind spots, as represented by the light red areas. It also shows that the 2nd Landwehr Division maximized the value of its defensive positions by finding low-lying areas below the line of sight of observers. Knowing this in advance means the Eighty-Second Infantry Division could improve visibility during the attacks by placing observers in observation balloons, a method deployed during World War I. This method, however, would have had limited success during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive because much of the battle took place during rain and fog.
As a result of this knowledge, the division could also take measures to improve mobile communications between the artillery gunners and the advancing infantry. In World War I, this often meant using soldiers as messengers or releasing carrier pigeons.
- In the Contents pane, uncheck and collapse the RLOS_2 group layer.
- Save the project.
Convert a battlefield 2D map into a 3D scene
Next, you'll convert your 2D map into a 3D scene to explore visualization of the regimental locations and enemy fortifications, as well as the viewshed for forward observers.
- In the Contents pane, turn on the LLOS_1 group layer.
- In the Catalog pane, expand Maps.
- Right-click Map, point to Convert, and choose To Local Scene.
A 3D scene is created using the same layers in your 2D map.
- On the scene, locate the white line of sight between Hill 223 and the forward observer.
- Click the mouse wheel button to rotate the scene toward the top of the map. Zoom to the line of sight.
For help with moving within a scene, see Navigation in 3D.
The white tube illustrates the direct line of sight between the forward observer and the highest point on Hill 223. This lateral view better illustrates how the rolling terrain of the Meuse-Argonne battlefield creates blind spots, shown in red, for the forward observer, whose task includes adjusting artillery fire as the infantry advances. Advancing under the cover of a rolling barrage became a common tactic in the later years of World War I.
The green and red line of sight appears to be buried under the ground in places. Next, you'll make it more visible by changing the Elevation Surface to match the MeuseArgonne DEM layer that you used to create the line of sight.
- In the Contents pane, drag MeuseArgonneDEMZone31.tif into the Ground layer category, above WorldElevation3D/Terrain3D.
The Elevation Surfaces layer category in the Contents pane defines how the 3D terrain will draw. In this scene, the ground will be shaped based on the Meuse Argonne DEM. For areas beyond the extent of that DEM, the ground will be shaped based on the default World Elevation surface.
It is still hard to see the line at some angles.
- In the Contents pane, double-click LLOS_Output_1 to open the Layer Properties window.
In the Contents pane, symbols in the 2D Layers category draw draped on the Elevation Surface. Symbols in the 3D Layers category draw at defined elevations, usually floating in the air. You can adjust those elevation values in the Layer Properties window.
- Click the Elevation tab. For Cartographic Offset, type 10.
This property will raise the green and red line of sight 10 meters higher and make it easier to see.
- Click OK.
- Rotate and tilt the scene so your own point of view is close to that of the forward observer.
The closer you get to the viewer's position, the fewer red areas are visible to you, since those areas are hidden from this vantage point. Changing the basemap will also give you a better perspective of the terrain.
- On the Map tab, in the Layer group, click Basemap and choose Imagery.
It looks like both the viewer and the target are on wooded hills, with mostly farmland in between.
- Navigate the scene to explore the area.
Changing basemaps gives you more information about the terrain. In this case, the open farm fields would provide flat routes for the advancing tanks. The streams and trees could help camouflage the advancing infantry. However, the dense woods near OBJ CORNAY and OBJ HILL 223 would provide excellent camouflage for entrenched German machine gunners. You are viewing modern imagery, not the battle-scarred landscape that existed in this area during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, but it offers an illustration of how imposing an imagery layer can provide the context needed to analyze the terrain and how it could affect combat operations. During World War I, aerial photography was used extensively for reconnaissance.
- Save the project.
- Close ArcGIS Pro.
In these lessons, you applied Military Tools for ArcGIS to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, a battle that, to this day, is still the bloodiest battle in American history. First, you converted a new project into a mission-ready map. Then, you used the Military Symbol Editor to create the American and German regiments that engaged on the morning of October 7, 1918. With Distance and Direction, you discovered critical information about the range of the 75-mm artillery and FT-17 tanks supporting the attack of the U.S. 328th Infantry Regiment. The Visibility tools allowed you to make simple adjustments to increase the viewshed of the forward observers acting as the eyes of the artillery.
The tools introduced in these lessons could be adapted to a wide variety of civilian careers ranging from firefighters and cartographers to police officers and communication specialists. Search and rescue officials could use these tools to establish the viewsheds needed to efficiently find lost hikers. Additionally, you can watch this video about the visibility tools.
You can find more lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.