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Chapter 2

Visual Information

VI is a resource that can significantly impact operational success. This chapter defines and discusses VI. It also discusses its mission, activities, exclusions, and threat.


2-1. VI is that aspect of IT pertaining to the acquisition, creation, storage, transmission, distribution, and disposition of still and motion imagery and multimedia, with or without sound, linear, or nonlinear, for conveying information. VI includes the exchange of ideas, data, and information, regardless of formats and technologies used.

2-2. VI documentation (VIDOC) is the process of using motion media, still photography, and audio equipment to acquire audio and visual records of events. VI soldiers, specifically trained to acquire, process, and transmit imagery and products, collect VIDOC. Resulting VI products include photographs, motion pictures, video recordings, graphic art, visual aids, models, and displays.

2-3. VI products assist commanders at all levels, from field commanders to the Secretary of Defense, in tactical C2 decision making, strategic planning, and management, through presentations and reports. Doctrinal, combat, materiel, and training developers use VI records for analysis and in reports and briefings to support their programs. In addition, VI products can be used for training, education, engineer (EN), logistical, personnel, medical, and legal purposes.

2-4. Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 5040.2 directs that VI resources are maintained by DOD agencies and the military services to provide the following:

  • Rapid deployment combat camera (COMCAM) teams to support military operations and emergencies, including documentation of force deployments and activities before, during, and after military engagements.

  • General purpose VI support that meets DOD requirements for VI documentation, production, distribution, records centers, and installation-level support.

  • Dedicated VI support of such activities as medical; intelligence; and research, development, test, and evaluation (RDTE).


2-5. The mission of VI activities and soldiers is to acquire and provide commanders and staffs, at all levels, with record documentation and VI products and services to satisfy official requirements. Security classification, operations security (OPSEC), nor subject sensitivity should prevent VI documentation, as VI products can be classified to any level required.

2-6. VI soldiers can provide military police (MP), military intelligence (MI), psychological operations (PSYOP), public affairs (PA), and civil affairs (CA) organizations with useful VI capabilities. However, because these units have specific missions that require special training, augmentation is limited to processing support a commander request and for which the VI soldier is equipped and trained. VI soldiers can also provide valuable sources of collateral combat medical operations and intelligence documentation despite the fact they are not considered specialists in either functional area.

2-7. VI support is limited to official events or activities. The use of VI products, equipment, or facilities for other than official purposes, such as loaning equipment to local and state governments or nonprofit organizations meeting on government property, is at the discretion of the local commander.


2-8. Common support VI activities service commanders and staffs at installations, organizations, and activities in an assigned support area (usually geographic).

2-9. Dedicated VI activities provide products and services only to a specified organization or function. This includes activities within deployable elements of operating forces.

2-10. The specific services a VI activity offers are outlined in the local standing operating procedures (SOPs); however, some common basic services offered by visual information support centers (VISCs) at troop installations are described below:

  • Still photography. Producing, processing, and reproducing still picture film, prints, and slide transparencies. This includes electronic still video camera systems.

  • Motion picture. Exposing, processing, and duplicating motion picture film. This includes briefings, news clips, operational documentation, filmed reports, and stand-alone segments, with or without sound.

  • Television. Producing and reproducing video recordings. This includes briefings, news clips, operational documentation, video reports, and stand-alone video segments, with or without sound.

  • Graphic art. Designing, creating, and preparing two- and three- dimensional visual products. This includes charts, graphs, posters, and visual materials for brochures, covers, television, motion pictures, printed publications, displays, presentations, and exhibits that are prepared manually, by machine, or by computer.

  • Audio. Recording, producing, reproducing, and distributing sound in support of an activity. This includes recording of briefings, news clips, ambient sound, sound effects, reports, documentation, aural amplification, and other studio products.

  • Library. Loaning and maintaining VI media and equipment. This authorization allows purchase, lease or rental, and accountability of COTS VI productions for local use.

  • Ready access file. Providing a consolidated electronic source of imagery that is accessible to official customers.

  • Presentation. Scheduling and maintaining classrooms and conference rooms and their supporting equipment. This may include providing public address systems, equipment loan, and projection services.

  • Customer self-help. Providing self-help support to customers for the production of simple overhead transparencies, briefing charts, sign-out boards, flyers, or flip charts.

  • Consultation. Providing customer consultation services in support of official requirements for the customer and for professionally developed VI products and services.

  • Maintenance. Repairing and servicing organic VI equipment.

2-11. Table 2-1 describes the different types of VI activities. The operation of VI activities is discussed in AR 25-1 and DA PAM 25-91.

Table 2-1. Types of VI Activities


Primary Function

Description of Capabilities

Level of Approval



Provides VI support services to all organizations on an installation or within a defined area. (Motion picture, linear and/or digital video, audio recording, graphic art, VI media, and/or equipment loan, maintenance, presentation support, still or digital photography, and processing.)

MACOM (FOAs are authorized by Office of the Director of Information Systems, Command, Control, Communications, and Computers [ODISC4])

B VI Production (Local)

Includes production, reproduction, and distribution of local multimedia/VI productions to support an individual organization, installation, or defined geographic area.

C VI Production (Non-local)

Includes all functions of Type B activities for use outside of the local installation or defined geographic area.

D VI Production (Contracting)

Provides commercial contracting, purchase, or rental of VI productions.

E VI Records Center Central control and storage facility for VI products.

Office of the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) (OASD[PA])

F Component Accessioning Point Central point for screening VI imagery and for forwarding imagery to the VI records center.


H VIDOC Recording of technical and nontechnical events.


I Product Distribution Central VI product distribution activity.


J VI Management J1 through J4 includes staff functions, management, and administration of VI activities.


J1 Headquarters  


J2 Major Army Command (MACOM)/field operating agency (FOA)  


J3 Common Support  


J4 Dedicated  


K VISC (Dedicated) Provides VI support to a specific organization or organizational element only. (Offers services similar to Type A facilities.)


Q Broadcasting Includes closed-circuit television (CCTV) support to a defined area (CCTV, master/community antenna, and command channel[s]).


R Regional VI Activities Provides VI support to a specifically designated region. (Offers services similar to Type A facilities.)


S PA Includes photojournalism, HQDA journalism, electronic photojournalism, and other VI media to support PA for TOE/MTOE PA units only.



2-12. Activities and functions that are not the responsibility of VI forces and excluded from the provisions of this document are discussed in Figure 2-1.

  • All video teleconferencing (VTC) capabilities and/or facilities. (See AR 25-1 for VTC policy.)

  • Photocopies, maps, digital medical imagery, X-ray, microfilm, and microfiche products.

  • C2 information displayed in conjunction with weapon systems.

  • VI products collected exclusively for surveillance, reconnaissance, or intelligence, and equipment integrated in a reconnaissance-collecting vehicle.

  • VI productions on the technical, procedural, and management aspects of cryptological operations.

  • Facilities, services, and products operated or maintained by the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). Products and productions acquired and distributed for AFRTS overseas use.

  • VI commercial entertainment production and equipment acquired and distributed by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and the Navy Motion Picture Service (NMPS).

  • VI systems embedded in training devices, simulators, instrumentation systems, and weapon or medical systems, if the primary purpose of the equipment is not VI and it does not perform a VI function.

  • VI equipment and products acquired with nonappropriated funds.

  • Organizations using still camera equipment for the purpose of generating identification or security badges.

  • At the choice of the MACOM commander, individual VI activities and their equipment, products, and services that are 100 percent funded by RDTE and used solely to support programmed and funded RDTE missions, and not common support VI requirements. (RDTE activities are not excluded from the Army VI Documentation Program [AVIDP].)

  • Non-VI activities using COTS office business graphic software (such as PowerPoint) in an office environment.

  • Nurse call/paging systems, binoculars, fixed outdoor public address systems, bugle call systems, silk screen equipment, outdoor sign makers, security surveillance systems, copiers not dedicated to VI activities, language labs, engraving equipment, and radio paging systems.

  • United States Army Communications-Electronics Command (USACECOM) products and services that are funded by civil appropriations and used solely to support funded civil works and non-DOD agency missions.

  • Multimedia products developed within the printing and publications policy and procedures guidelines.

  • VI library materials and equipment acquired for use in Army libraries.

  • Equipment not controlled by VI systems.

  • Self-processing cameras.

Figure 2-1. Excluded VI Activities

2-13. If VI products excluded in Figure 2-1 are used to develop a subsequent VI production, the resulting production is considered VIDOC and subject to the provisions of this manual and DA PAM 25-91.

2-14. VI forces rely on automated information systems that provide a target for adversary IO activities. While using DOD or commercially leased circuits to provide imagery, they share the common risks associated with using these systems. Also, due to the lack of a procedural mechanism to determine the extent of foreign ownership, control, or influence (FOCI) of software or other IT to support VI operations, there is the potential for covert insertion of malicious code during the developmental process. This could have serious security implications.

2-15. VI forces collecting VIDOC in a tactical environment face the additional risk of adversary intervention. Adversaries may attempt to determine what the VI customer is seeing, or not seeing, or to manipulate the data stream in order to present a distorted or false picture.

2-16. VI assets face the same physical threats as their host organization when operating as a component of a deployed ground force. The conventional threats include artillery systems, missile systems, rocket-propelled grenades, land mines, close-combat aircraft, and small arms fire.

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