Training Network: Wilderness Survival | Fitness Training  
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The Sport:

  • Orienteering History
  • Orienteering Overview
  • Course Setup
  • Officials
  • Start/Finish Areas
  • Course Safety
  • Control Point Guidelines
  • Map Symbols
  • Orienteering Techniques
  • Civilian Orienteering

    The Skills:

  • Maps
  • Marginal Information and Symbols
  • Grids
  • Scale and Distance
  • Direction
  • Overlays
  • Aerial Photographs
  • Navigation Equipment and Methods
  • Elevation and Relief
  • Terrain Association
  • Navigation in Different Types of Terrain

  • Field Sketching
  • Map Folding Techniques
  • Units of Measure and Conversion Factors

  • Map Categories

    The DMA's mission is to provide mapping, charting, and all geodesy support to the armed forces and all other national security operations. DMA produces four categories of products and services: hydrographic, topographic, aeronautical, and missile and targeting. Military maps are categorized by scale and type.

    a.   Scale. Because a map is a graphic representation of a portion of the earth's surface drawn to scale as seen from above, it is important to know what mathematical scale has been used. You must know this to determine ground distances between objects or locations on the map, the size of the area covered, and how the scale may affect the amount of detail being shown. The mathematical scale of a map is the ratio or fraction between the distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the surface of the earth. Scale is reported as a representative fraction with the map distance as the numerator and the ground distance as the denominator.

    Representative fraction (scale) = map distance
    ——————————
    ground distance

    As the denominator of the representative fraction gets larger and the ratio gets smaller, the scale of the map decreases. Defense Mapping Agency maps are classified by scale into three categories. They are small-, medium-, and large-scale maps (Figure 2-1). The terms "small scale," "medium scale," and "large scale" may be confusing when read in conjunction with the number. However, if the number is viewed as a fraction, it quickly becomes apparent that 1:600,000 of something is smaller than 1:75,000 of the same thing. Therefore, the larger the number after 1:, the smaller the scale of the map.

    Figure 2-1.   Scale classifications.

    Figure 2-1. Scale classifications.

    (1)   Small. Those maps with scales of 1:1,000,000 and smaller are used for general planning and for strategic studies (bottom map in Figure 2-1). The standard small-scale map is 1:1,000,000. This map covers a very large land area at the expense of detail.

    (2)   Medium. Those maps with scales larger than 1:1,000,000 but smaller than 1:75,000 are used for operational planning (center map in Figure 2-1). They contain a moderate amount of detail, but terrain analysis is best done with the large-scale maps described below. The standard medium-scale map is 1:250,000. Medium scale maps of 1:100,000 are also frequently encountered.

    (3)   Large. Those maps with scales of 1:75,000 and larger are used for tactical, administrative, and logistical planning (top map in Figure 2-1). These are the maps that you as a soldier or junior leader are most likely to encounter. The standard large-scale map is 1:50,000; however, many areas have been mapped at a scale of 1:25,000.

    b.   Types. The map of choice for land navigators is the 1:50,000-scale military topographic map. It is important, however, that you know how to use the many other products available from the DMA as well. When operating in foreign places, you may discover that DMA map products have not yet been produced to cover your particular area of operations, or they may not be available to your unit when you require them. Therefore, you must be prepared to use maps produced by foreign governments that may or may not meet the standards for accuracy set by DMA. These maps often use symbols that resemble those found on DMA maps but which have completely different meanings. There may be other times when you must operate with the only map you can obtain. This might be a commercially produced map run off on a copy machine at higher headquarters. In Grenada, many of our troops used a British tourist map.

    (1)   Planimetric Map. This is a map that presents only the horizontal positions for the features represented. It is distinguished from a topographic map by the omission of relief, normally represented by contour lines. Sometimes, it is called a line map.

    (2)   Topographic Map. This is a map that portrays terrain features in a measurable way (usually through use of contour lines), as well as the horizontal positions of the features represented. The vertical positions, or relief, are normally represented by contour lines on military topographic maps. On maps showing relief, the elevations and contours are measured from a specific vertical datum plane, usually mean sea level. Figure 3-1 shows a typical topographic map.

    (3)   Photomap. This is a reproduction of an aerial photograph upon which grid lines, marginal data, place names, route numbers, important elevations, boundaries, and approximate scale and direction have been added.

    (4)   Joint Operations Graphics. These maps are based on the format of standard 1:250,000 medium-scale military topographic maps, but they contain additional information needed in joint air-ground operations (Figure 2-2). Along the north and east edges of the graphic, detail is extended beyond the standard map sheet to provide overlap with adjacent sheets. These maps are produced both in ground and air formats. Each version is identified in the lower margin as either Joint Operations Graphic (Air) or Joint Operations Graphic (Ground). The topographic information is identical on both, but the ground version shows elevations and contour in meters and the air version shows them in feet. Layer (elevation) tinting and relief shading are added as an aid to interpolating relief. Both versions emphasize airlanding facilities (shown in purple), but the air version has additional symbols to identify aids and obstructions to air navigation.

    Figure 2-2.   Joint operations graphic (air).

    Figure 2-2. Joint operations graphic (air).

    (5)   Photomosaic. This is an assembly of aerial photographs that is commonly called a mosaic in topographic usage. Mosaics are useful when time does not permit the compilation of a more accurate map. The accuracy of a mosaic depends on the method employed in its preparation and may vary from simply a good pictorial effect of the ground to that of a planimetric map.

    (6)   Terrain Model. This is a scale model of the terrain showing features, and in large-scale models showing industrial and cultural shapes. It provides a means for visualizing the terrain for planning or indoctrination purposes and for briefing on assault landings.

    (7)   Military City Map. This is a topographic map (usually at 1:12,550 scale, sometimes up to 1:5,000), showing the details of a city. It delineates streets and shows street names, important buildings, and other elements of the urban landscape important to navigation and military operations in urban terrain. The scale of a military city map depends on the importance and size of the city, density of detail, and available intelligence information.

    (8)   Special Maps. These are maps for special purposes, such as trafficability, communications, and assault maps. They are usually in the form of an overprint in the scales smaller than 1:100,000 but larger than 1:1,000,000. A special purpose map is one that has been designed or modified to give information not covered on a standard map. The wide range of subjects that could be covered under the heading of special purpose maps prohibits, within the scope of this manual, more than a brief mention of a few important ones. Some of the subjects covered are:

    • Terrain features.

    • Drainage characteristics.

    • Vegetation.

    • Climate.

    • Coasts and landing beaches.

    • Roads and bridges.

    • Railroads.

    • Airfields.

    • Urban areas.

    • Electric power.

    • Fuels.

    • Surface water resources.

    • Ground water resources.

    • Natural construction materials.

    • Cross-country movements.

    • Suitability for airfield construction.

    • Airborne operations.

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