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How to Understand Colors on a Military Map

Learn about the colors on a military map in this US army basic training video from Howcast with Sergeant Michael Volkin.


A difficult class for many recuits is map reading. Reading a military map can be confusing given the different scales and types of colors. In this video we're going to talk about the different types of colors and you can learn the rest while you're at basic training. Black indicates man made features, buildings and roads. We also have the color red-brown. It's a combination color. The colors red and brown are combined to mean man made features, or cultural features, elevation such as contour lines. The color blue identifies water features such as lakes swams and rivers. Green of course means vegetation so woods, orchids, or vineyards. The color red by itself, not the red-brown combination but red shows populated areas, main roads and boundaries. As GPS devices become more and more common, learning to read a road map become less and less common. But learning to read a road map in a combat zone could save your life someday, so pay attention to map reading class in basic training.

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