Just as law enforcement relied upon surveillance cameras and personal photography to enable the prompt identification of the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing, U.S. armed forces increasingly look to the collection of still and motion imagery to support military operations.
Combat camera (COMCAM) capabilities support “operational planning, public affairs, information operations, mission assessment, forensic, legal, intelligence and other requirements during crises, contingencies, and exercises around the globe,” according to newly updated military doctrine.
COMCAM personnel are “highly trained visual information professionals prepared to deploy to the most austere operational environments at a moment’s notice.”
COMCAM units “are adaptive and provide fully qualified and equipped personnel to support sustained day or night operations” in-flight, on the ground or undersea, as needed.
“Effectively employed COMCAM assets at the tactical level can potentially achieve national, theater strategic, and operational level objectives in a manner that lessens the requirement for combat in many situations,” the new doctrine says. “Their products can counter adversary misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda and help commanders gain situational awareness on operations in a way written or verbal reports cannot.”
“The products can also provide historical documentation, public information, or an evidentiary foundation… for forensic documentation of evidence and legal proceedings. They can provide intelligence documentation to include imagery for facial recognition and key leader engagements, and support special reconnaissance.”
The newly issued COMCAM doctrine supersedes previous guidance from 2007. See Combat Camera: Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Combat Camera (COMCAM) Operations, April 2013.