Mathematics at war
December 2, 2009
- Soldier experiments with using mathematics to locate insurgent forces and predict their activities.
WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M., Nov. 26, 2009 - Like something out of a television show, a member of the 2nd Engineer Battalion taking part in predeployment training at Fort Irwin, Calif. is developing a method of using mathematics to locate insurgent forces and even predict their activities.
Staff Sgt. Bradley Moscou, a chemical Noncommissioned Officer serving as a battle NCO with the battalion, is using a combination of calculus, algebra, and trigonometry, along with his knowledge of weapons system and terrain analysis to try and locate enemy supply caches and predict enemy actions. "It's just playing variables, that's all. Everything has a probability and it can follow a cycle," Moscou said.
By evaluating a previous enemy action, like a route clearance patrol locating a roadside bomb, Moscou can look at the surrounding terrain and determine a rough area of operation of the opposing force. He can then calculate the probability of another bomb placement and evaluate the terrain. When the numbers are crunched and the nearby terrain evaluated, Moscou can then determine possible location of enemy hideouts, what routes they are taking, what the likelihood of another attack is, and even the chances of another enemy operation.
The system isn't perfect, but is has generated results, allowing the engineers to locate several supply caches and catch a roadside bomber. Moscou hopes to keep working on the system so that it will be more usable when the unit deploys. The system isn't perfect yet, but is has generated results, allowing the engineers to locate several supply caches and catch a roadside bomber. "Right now we're out here (NTC) and its play time, so we might as well try this and see if it works," Moscou said. He hopes to keep working on the system so that it will be more usable when the unit deploys next year, with a goal of being able to predict and identify threats in an area roughly one square kilometer in size. "We hope we can get this thing working by the time we go overseas so we can start targeting (the insurgents) and taking the fight to them," Moscou said.
Though his training is in chemical weapons, Moscou, like many other Chemical NCOs, has had to find how to support his unit when there isn't a chemical weapons threat. "Chemical NCOs have to be very versatile these days," Moscou said. Versatility is an asset that's important for the rest of the battalion as well, something not lost to Moscou. "I watched (the combat engineers) go from infantry with explosives to route clearance experts," said Moscou.