Lockheed Martin applies surveillance technology to keep Marines safe in Iraq

March 1, 2006
U.S. military forces stationed in Iraq soon will test surveillance technology and methods adapted from law enforcement.

By John McHale

GAITHERSBURG, Md. - U.S. military forces stationed in Iraq soon will test surveillance technology and methods adapted from law enforcement.

Lockheed Martin experts, together with the Chicago and Los Angeles police departments, are employing counter-insurgency (COIN) surveillance technology to support urban operations conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq.

The COIN technology will enable the military units to use video surveillance and other police investigative methods to track and identify persons of interest to learn their patterns, characteristics, and associates, as well as help them to predict when and where insurgents might strike, Lockheed Martin officials say.

“The COIN technology will save the lives of U.S. Marines in Iraq,” says Marine Corps Lt. Col. Nick Marano. “The approach will enable our troops to target specific areas, observe people behaving in ways that they disguise when they see a Marine, and collect and link investigative data to identify patterns and key insurgent locations. This data will be available to the tactical unit in the field, as well as command and intelligence centers.”

Lockheed Martin’s COIN technology augments military procedures with proven police investigative methods and enables troops to act with greater accuracy and conduct round-the-clock surveillance from a relatively safe distance.

This police surveillance and investigative technology is modified and integrated to suit the needs of the U.S. Marines who will employ the technology. By identifying potential insurgents and their networks, COIN technology will also help protect Iraqis and U.S. troops against suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In addition to deploying surveillance cameras and other devices to track suspicious activities, Lockheed Martin experts will create an investigative database of information about Iraqi insurgents collected by U.S. military forces patrolling the area. The database is a customized version of a police investigative database developed by the Chicago Police Department for its anti-gang, counter-drug operations.

The effort also will include hands-free intelligent recorders from Lockheed Martin that automatically translate the Marines’ spoken words into formatted text and precise location information, which is securely transmitted into the database.

“These devices will enable military personnel to record information and location into a secure database by simply speaking aloud,” says Gordy McElroy, Lockheed Martin vice president of Intelligence and Homeland Security Systems. “It enables deployed Marines to collect information they need while keeping their hands on their weapons and paying attention to the surroundings. With information in the database, our forces and analysts will be better able to search and retrieve information on persons of interest in specific areas.”

Currently, COIN technology is part of a pilot program that Lockheed Martin is testing for use in Iraq. Following testing in desert situations, the corporation plans to deliver the surveillance architecture early this year.

“The technology helps extend what the individual Marine sees and senses,” Marano says. “Using this police work model, we will be able to solve several problems earlier by surveillance.”

These methods and similar technology have been used with great success by Chicago police, who developed the capabilities to investigate urban gangs. The Chicago PD is providing its expertise and lessons learned in an effort to help the Marines in Iraq.

“Our officers and detectives use I-CLEAR (Illinois Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) on a daily basis to track crime trends and check criminal backgrounds of wanted offenders,” says Philip J. Cline, superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. “This technology has expanded as a model for law enforcement agencies across the country, and now, we look forward to sharing these same concepts with the military.”

The Los Angeles Police Department is bringing its urban and counterterrorism operations experience to the program, helping to coordinate how the U.S. Marines will use COIN technology in Iraq.

“LAPD SWAT and bomb-disposal units are working with Marines to prepare them to handle situations in Iraq that are similar to what our officers handle here,” says Ralph Morten, LAPD detective supervisor. The COIN contract is valued at an initial $2.5 million. Lockheed Martin has additional counter-IED contracts under way across the corporation, primarily focused on capabilities to address specific aspects of the IED problem, such as area surveillance, prediction, and convoy training.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Military Aerospace, create an account today!