Gen. Darren McDew, leader of U.S. Transportation Command, speaks at the GEOINT 2017 Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, June 6, 2017. Credit: USGIF

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Geospatial intelligence could help revolutionize logistics, the head of U.S. Transportation Command said Tuesday.

Speaking at the annual GEOINT Symposium hosted by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, Air Force Gen. Darren McDew said satellite imaging and tracking capabilities will help the military more efficiently move and deploy troops and hardware.

For example, McDew said he’s looking forward to further development of self-driving cars and trucks — technology that relies on precision navigation and timing from satellites, plus an awareness of its surrounding environment, routes and obstacles provided by GEOINT.

“It’s not if, it’s when,” he said. “If we do it tomorrow, I’m ready….It’s really to get after the way we automate doing business.”

But as a combatant commander with warfighting responsibilities, McDew reminded attendees that any GEOINT capabilities need to be secure.

“That new autonomous force has to be as [protected] now as protecting flesh and bone,” he said. “We’ve got to look at that new force protection in a different way.”

GEOINT also can help the military with tasks like predicting where certain capabilities or supplies might be needed, or how best to transfer assets between hotspots.

“I need global situational awareness,” McDew said. “I need to be able to swing assets from one theater to another. I need to be able to look at how we ‘geo-logistics’ everything.”

The general said he’s looking forward to seeing what GEOINT capabilities industry creates.

“The might of this United States military can only be projected through logistics, and we can’t do any of it without commercial industry,” McDew said. “No one has ever in the history of mankind thought of logistics as high tech or sensitive. I will tell you it’s both.”

Phillip Swarts is the military space reporter for SpaceNews. He previously covered space and advanced technology for Air Force Times, the Justice Department for The Washington Times, and investigative journalism for the Washington Guardian;...