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Combat surveillance

Definition In the context of military operations, combat surveillance is the systematic observation of enemy activity and geographical areas in order to gather military intelligence. This process allows for early warning of enemy actions, aids in the direction of friendly forces, and helps assess damage after attacks. Methods can include the use of sensor systems, […]


In the context of military operations, combat surveillance is the systematic observation of enemy activity and geographical areas in order to gather military intelligence. This process allows for early warning of enemy actions, aids in the direction of friendly forces, and helps assess damage after attacks. Methods can include the use of sensor systems, aerial reconnaissance, or ground-based operations.

Key Takeaways

  1. Combat Surveillance refers to the systematic observation of the enemy, terrain, and other aspects of the combat environment by means of visual, aural, electronic, photographic and other sensors.
  2. This military operation is of key importance as it enables tactical commanders to understand the battle space, plan their operations, and timely decision-making against their adversaries.
  3. Combat Surveillance involves a vast range of activities ranging from human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), to near real-time drone surveillance, all of which are critical to achieving situational awareness in battlefield scenarios.


Combat surveillance is a crucial term in military operations due to its strategic significance in facilitating situational awareness and enhancing defense operations.

This term encompasses a wide range of activities geared towards the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of vital battlefield information to enable accurate decision-making and effective execution of military operations.

Combat surveillance involves the use of high-end technology and specialized equipment that allow armed forces to monitor, detect, and track enemy activities from a safe distance.

By understanding the enemy’s actions, capabilities, intentions, and patterns, military forces can anticipate potential threats, thereby enabling them to mount an effective defense or strategic attack.

Thus, combat surveillance plays a critical role in ensuring successful military operations, security, and maintaining a tactical advantage on the battlefield.


Combat surveillance is a critical component within military operations, serving an essential purpose in maintaining the safety and success of military missions. Its primary purpose is to gather, process, and analyze data to provide timely, relevant, and accurate information on the ground or naval warfare arena.

It allows a strategic understanding of the enemy’s activities, movements, weaponry, strengths, and vulnerabilities. With this information, military decision-makers can plan actions meticulously and tactfully while minimizing risks and threats.

Combat surveillance typically involves a network of various military assets such as unmanned aircraft systems, satellites, ground sensors, and human intelligence sources. This vital operation not only collects information on potential threats but also acts as a platform for real-time monitoring of ongoing missions.

It provides information that helps to predict enemy maneuvers and reacts proactively rather than reactively. By doing so, combat surveillance significantly enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations, thereby reducing potential casualties and ensuring the successful achievement of strategic objectives.

Examples of Combat surveillance

Operation Buffalo: This was a series of nuclear tests carried out by the British at Maralinga in South Australia in

Comprehensive combat surveillance was implemented to observe the effects of the nuclear detonations, monitor radioactivity levels, and understand the potential impact of nuclear warfare. This surveillance not only included physical observations but also air and ground monitoring systems.

Operation Neptune Spear: This was the U.S. military operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in

Advanced combat surveillance was extensively used in the operation, including the use of satellites, drones, and on-ground agents to track Bin Laden’s movements and gather information about his compound. This surveillance was crucial to planning and executing the mission.

The Vietnam War: The U.S. military used a variety of combat surveillance methods during the Vietnam War. This included aerial reconnaissance for troop movement tracking, radar and acoustic detectors for early warning of enemy approach, and ground patrol units to gather intelligence. These methods provided the U.S. military with real-time information to make strategic decisions, plan operations, and minimize casualties.

FAQs on Combat Surveillance

What is combat surveillance?

Combat surveillance refers to the systematic observation of aerial, surface, or subsurface areas, places, persons, or things, by visual, aural, electronic, photographic, or other means.

What is the role of combat surveillance in military operations?

Combat surveillance operations provide real-time information and tactical intelligence to ground war commanders. These operations are crucial in shaping the battlefield and providing commanders the information they need to make informed decisions.

How is combat surveillance performed?

Combat surveillance is performed by deploying dedicated surveillance systems like radars, cameras, and sensors. It also includes employing surveillance aircraft and ground units who operate the equipment.

What does a combat surveillance operator do?

A combat surveillance operator operates and manages surveillance systems, performs surveillance routines, and interprets and reports the collected information to the relevant personnel or command unit.

What is the importance of combat surveillance in modern warfare?

In modern warfare, combat surveillance plays a key role in maintaining situational awareness, detecting enemy units, monitoring enemy activities, and providing useful intelligence for planning and executing military operations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Combat Stress Recovery Programs
  • Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC)
  • VA War-Time Disability Compensation
  • Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP)
  • Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Combat Operations

Sources for More Information

  • Encyclopedia Britannica: This site provides trusted and comprehensive summaries for a variety of topics, including military operations terminology.
  • U.S. Department of Defense: The official site of the U.S. Department of Defense offers detailed information about various military terms and operations.
  • Federation of American Scientists (FAS): FAS provides extensive information, publications, and resources on matters related to security, including combat surveillance.
  • Military Factory: A site that provides information on the structure and hierarchy of various military systems and also explains different military operation terms.

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