U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation presents award to RCAF team

News Article / October 27, 2017

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From the USGIF, with files from the RCAF

Earlier this year, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) recognized the 2017 recipients of its annual awards program during the Foundation’s GEOINT (geospatial intelligence) 2017 Symposium held in San Antonio, Texas.

Among the recipients was a group from the Royal Canadian Air Force: the URSA (Unclassified Remote-sensing Situational Awareness) team. The RCAF’s deputy commander, Major-General Blaise Frawley, who was at that time the director general space at the RCAF, accepted the award on behalf of the team.

The USGIF Awards Program annually recognizes the exceptional work of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft’s brightest minds and organizations that are pushing the community forward. Award winners are nominated by their colleagues and selected by the USGIF awards subcommittee.

“Unwavering commitment to service, inspired innovation, academic rigor, and discipline are just some of the words that define the exceptional accomplishments of this year’s awardees,” said Kevin Jackson, USGIF awards subcommittee chair. “Their accomplishments will have lasting effects on our nation and the world.”

The URSA team’s citation reads:

Military Achievement Award:
Canadian Armed Forces
In December 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) deployed the Unclassified Remote-sensing Situational Awareness (URSA) system to the Middle Eastern AOR [area of responsibility] under Operation Foundation. The innovative addition of a near real-time ship detection capability allows the system to support CAF and coalition maritime operations by sharing with the region’s combined maritime forces and U.S. Central Command. The result is an enhanced maritime common operating picture in previously dark areas of interest, improved situational awareness for deployed commanders, and cross-cueing of space, air, and seaborne assets. URSA is a force multiplier highlighting the effective operational use of space-based maritime domain awareness.

URSA is a satellite imagery receiver system: a mobile self-contained workspace for the collection, production, and utilization of imagery. The technology enables selected satellites to directly downlink unclassified high resolution imagery of theatre AORs.

Responsibility for the space domain within the Canadian Armed Forces was transferred to the RCAF last year. Deployment of the URSA capability is coordinated by the Canadian Space Operations Cell (CANSpOC), located in Ottawa and operationally responsible to the space component commander for the CAF (who is also the director general space).

“URSA will improve the CAF’s operational capability by eliminating the need for reach-back imagery support,” said then-Brigadier-General Frawley when URSA was first launched on deployed operations in December 2016. “This will mean reducing delays and increasing situational awareness in near real-time – a real boost for continued mission success.”

To see the complete list of June 2017 winners and their citations, visit the USGIF web page (available in English only).

About the USGIF Awards

“The USGIF Awards Program annually recognizes the exceptional work of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft’s brightest minds and innovative organizations. The awards are presented to applicants selected by the USGIF Awards Subcommittee during the annual GEOINT Symposium. Highlighting the achievements of those within the global GEOINT Community, the awards program also boosts morale, inspires the community, and increases interest in the field.”

The military achievement award “recognizes exceptional GEOINT accomplishments by an individual or team from the military service branches or the Department of Defense that contributes to the increased effectiveness of national security. Geospatial intelligence has become a must-have for mission planning, rehearsal, action, decision-making, and more. From the services down to the units, interesting and important GEOINT activities are taking place and deserve wide recognition. All U.S. and international military groups are encouraged to apply.”


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