Elevation and Relief - Profiles

The study of contour lines to determine high and low points of elevation is usually adequate for military operations. However, there may be a few times when we need a quick and precise reference to determine exact elevations of specific points. When exactness is demanded, a profile is required. A profile, within the scope and purpose of this manual, is an exaggerated side view of a portion of the earth's surface along a line between two or more points.

a. A profile can be used for many purposes. The primary purpose is to determine if line of sight is available. Line of sight is used--

(1) To determine defilade positions.
(2) To plot hidden areas or dead space.

(3) To determine potential direct fire weapon positions.

(4) To determine potential locations for defensive positions.

(5) To conduct preliminary planning in locating roads, pipelines, railroads, or other construction projects.

b. A profile can be constructed from any contoured map. Its construction requires the following steps:

(1) Draw a line on the map from where the profile is to begin to where it is to end.

(2) Find the value of the highest and lowest contour lines that cross or touch the profile line. Add one contour value above the highest and one below the lowest to take care of hills and valleys.
(3) Select a piece of lined notebook paper with as many lines as was determined in (2) above. The standard Army green pocket notebook or any other paper with 1/4­inch lines is ideal. Wider lines, up to 5/8­inch, may be used. If lined paper is not available draw equally spaced horizontal lines on a blank sheet of paper.

(4) Number the top line with the highest value and the bottom line with the lowest value as determined in (2) above.

(5) Number the rest of the lines in sequence, starting with the second line from the top. The lines will be numbered in accordance with the contour interval

(6) Place the paper on the map with the lines next to and parallel to the profile line.

(7) From every point on the profile line where a contour line, stream, intermittent stream, or other body of water crosses or touches, drop a perpendicular line to the line having the same value. Place a tick mark where the perpendicular line crosses the number line (Figure 10­29). Where trees are present, add the height of the trees to the contour line and place a tick mark there. Assume the height of the trees to be 50 feet or 15 meters where dark green tint is shown on the map. Vegetation height may be adjusted up or down when operations in the area have provided known tree heights.

(8) After all perpendicular lines have been drawn and tick marks placed where the lines cross, connect all tick marks with a smooth, natural curve to form a horizontal view or profile of the terrain along the profile line.

(9) The profile drawn may be exaggerated. The spacing between the lines drawn on the sheet of paper will determine the amount of exaggeration and may be varied to suit any purpose.

(10) Draw a straight line from the start point to the end point on the profile. If the straight line intersects the curved profile, line of sight to the end point is not available.

(12) The vertical distance between navigable ground up to the line of sight line is the depth of defilade.

c. When time is short, or when a complete profile is not needed, one may be constructed showing only the hilltops, ridges, and if desired, the valleys. This is called a hasty profile. It is constructed in the same manner as a full profile.