Debrief Glossary

1. Introduction

This section contains explanations of terms used within Debrief



Atlantic Underwater Test Facility. Data files from this facility which are to be imported into Debrief should be suffixed with "RAO". The origin of AUTEC is:

23º 26' 37.6280" N
77º 38' 6.8250" W

Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility. Data files from this facility which are to be imported into Debrief should be suffixed with "PRN". The origin of AFWTF is :

17º 38.1577' N 
065º 4.2065' W

An annotation is the generic term used to describe the graphic elements added to a plot which do not represent vehicle positions, or bearings recorded on vehicle-mounted sensors. Examples of annotations are rectangles, ellipses and lines.


The Advanced Scenario Simulator for the Evaluation of Tactics, a modular simulation suite intended for high-level simulation of maritime tactical scenarios by a relatively inexperienced user (read: uniformed). ASSET was actually the predecessor to Debrief, with the initial Debrief software being created to analyse ASSET simulation results. Quickly it was recognised that Debrief could also be usefully employed in the analysis of real exercise tracks. Aaah, how close we came to not having Debrief at all...

Bearing rate

Bearing rate within the application is calculated using the following formula:

Bdot = ((Tspd * sin(Tcrse) - Ospd * sin(Ocrse)) *
cos(brg) - (Tspd * cos(Tcrse) - Ospd * cos(Ocrse)) *
sin(brg)) / range * 60
Rdot = Range Rate (yds/min)
Bdot = Bearing Rate (degs/min)
Tspd, Tcrse = Target course and speed (degs & yps)
Ospd, Ocrse = Ownship course and speed (degs & yps)
brg = Bearing to target from ownship (degs)
range = Range to target from ownship (yds)

Positive and negative bearing rates are named Right and Left according to naval convention, abbreviated to R and L in the tote.


The combination of a DTG, a remark and the name of a plot-file. Debrief NG presents the series of bookmarks allowing you to quickly move through events of interest across a series of plot-files.


A series of sonar buoys which are laid in a particular pattern during Anti-Submarine Warfare.

Build date

Each copy of Debrief is aware of the date it was built. Find this out by selecting About from the Help menu.


Tutorials guide users through tasks. The task is broken down into steps and presented to the user one step at a time, and the user checks off the steps as he/she completes them. The Cheat Sheets can be accessed from the command in Debrief's Help menu, or the Tutorials section of the Debrief's Welcome page.


Core Maritime Analysis Platform a framework of components intended to be reused across a range of maritime analysis applications. The two initial CMAP applications are Debrief and ASSET.

Coastline file

Debrief expects to find a coastline file (named World.dat) in its installation directory. Debrief loads this file in the background as soon as it opens; regardless of whether the user has requested to add a coastline to the current plot. Once the coastline is loaded (for the standard 1.2Mb file this takes around 8 seconds) there is no further performance penalty within the application.

The coastline file should be formatted in the following way:

  • The coastline consists of a series of coastline segments. Each segment is drawn as a continuous polygon by the application.

  • Each segment begins with the # -b separator on a line of its own

  • Then there are a series of lines each containing a point in latitude and longitude expressed in decimal degrees (to 6 decimal places in the standard file).

# -b
-7.491098    4.257159
-7.523953    4.245425
-9.112761    5.008146
-9.464786    5.339050
-9.807424    5.681688
# -b
-9.807424    5.681688
-10.004558    5.845966
-11.152161    6.606341
-11.131039    6.639197
-11.163895    6.672052
-11.307052    6.761232
-11.351642    6.803475
Dead reckoning

Dead reckoning (DR) is the process of estimating one's current position based upon a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time, and course. Debrief plots tracks in DR mode by plotting the positions as a series of course/speed legs from an origin. Debrief plots lats/longs unchanged when in Over the Ground mode.

DIS Standard

Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) is an IEEE standard for conducting real-time platform-level wargaming across multiple host computers and is used worldwide, especially by military organizations but also by other agencies such as those involved in space exploration and medicine.

Display mode

Each of the display modes used on the Debrief plot represents a different method of stepping through the plot. When in the normal mode each track is shown in full, with a highlight drawn over the current point (as indicated in the Tote). When in snail mode only the current point plus an optional back-track is plotted.


Acronym representing Date Time Group

Earth Model

The Earth Model used by the application is modular and interchangeable. In the initial release of the application the calculations use the Rhumb-Line Formulae, as described in 'Admiralty Manual of Navigation, Volume 2, 1973'. Short-distance sailing is defined as "the following of a rhumb-line track for a distance not greater than 600"


Standard for digital topographic data, predominantly distributed by the NOAA

GitHub is a web-site providing a range of software development capabilities. Its name comes from its use of the Git software version control system. Git allows multiple developers to work simultaneously on a project, preventing conflicts and helping to merge divergent development paths.


The highlighter is the graphic used to indicate the current point on a track. Use of different highlighters allows range rings or a vessel-specific symbol to be plotted at the current point


A collection of objected plotted on the Debrief Plot. Each layer can be switched on and off individually using the Outline View (see Section 3.4, “Layer management”). When written to a plot-file, each layer is stored separately - making it quite easy to copy individual layers out of a plot-file using a text-editor and collating them into a new file. (An example of this would be drawing exercise areas into one session, then moving them all into one layer, save the file to disk, copy this layer to a file of its own, then dropping this file of exercise areas into new files - an example of this is in the VPF best-practice, Section 7.4.3, “How to do it - 1”)


[Extracts taken from MWC 2000 Flyer]

Under CinCFleet, the Maritime Warfare Centre (MWC) is a 'one-stop shop' for the evolution and dissemination of maritime/joint doctrine and concepts through teaching, tactical development, operational analysis, force development and wargaming.

It also provides the focus for the development and practice of operational level warfighting, planning and decision making.

The MWC was formed on 1 October 1995 merging the activities of the Maritime Warfare Development Centre at HMS Dolphin and the Maritime Tactical School at HMS Dryad to create a focal point for doctrine and tactical development.


A series of time-related text messages. Typically these may represent the narrative recorded in a control room during an exercise, but alternatively they may contain a series of status messages retrieved from a sensor or weapon. All that is required is that the message have a DTG attached and that it may be represented in text form.

Natural Earth

In 2015 support for Natural Earth data was added to Debrief. Natural Earth is a public domain, freely available dataset of Vector and Raster data. To support Debrief analysts a customized version of Natural Earth has been produced that is compliant with the Mercator Projection, and styled suitably for the maritime domain.

Over the ground

Plotting a Debrief track using the recorded sensor positions. Whilst Debrief stores course and speed data, and uses their values in calculations, they do not contribute to how the positions are plotted. Debrief plots a track using course and speed data when in Dead Reckoning mode.


A zoomed out plot showing the full dataset currently loaded. Double clicking on this plot forces the main plot to re-centre on the selected point, and dragging an area on this plot forces the main plot to zoom in on the selected area. The formatting on the overview chart is identical to (and unchangeable from) that on the main plot, with the exception that text is not plotted - to reduce clutter.


Each Workbench window contains one or more perspectives. A perspective defines the initial set and layout of views in the Workbench window. Within the window, each perspective shares the same set of editors. Each perspective provides a set of functionality aimed at accomplishing a specific type of task or works with specific types of resources. For example, the Tactical Analysis perspective combines views that you would commonly use while editing analysing tactical files, while the Contact Ork perspective would help aliens (typically named Mork) in contacting their mother planet - together with the VOIP software link direct to Orson. As you work in the Workbench, you will probably switch perspectives frequently, especially if you're having Mindy trouble.

Perspectives control what appears in certain menus and toolbars. They define visible action sets, which you can change to customize a perspective. You can save a perspective that you build in this manner, making your own custom perspective that you can open again later.

You can use the General > Perspectives preference page to open perspectives in the same window or in a new window.


Pacific Fleet Weapons Training Facility (see AFWTF). The origin of PFWTF is :

22º 7.16646' N
159º 55.17' W

A graphic God's-eye representation of the current dataset. By default the plot has a black background but this may be altered by the user.


A file containing the following:

  • The data originally loaded from the Replay file

  • Any formatting applied to the data originally loaded

  • The details of any features added to the plot from the toolbars

  • The coordinates of the current view of the data

  • The settings of any controls used in Debrief (time on the Tote, primary/secondary tracks, etc)

Plot-Files end with an DPF suffix and may be viewed in Internet Explorer or edited using Notepad.

Properties window

A view containing a list of all of the editable properties for an object within Debrief. Where applicable, custom editors are supplied (Color, Location, DTG, etc)

Range rate

Range rate within the application is calculated using the following formula:

Rdot = (Tspd * cos (Tcrse - brg) - 
Ospd * cos(Ocrse - brg) /*60
              Rdot = Range Rate (yds/min)
Tspd, Tcrse = Target course and speed (degs & yps)
Ospd, Ocrse = Ownship course and speed (degs & yps)
brg = Bearing to target from ownship (degs)

Replay is the name of the Unix application used for viewing tracks back in the early 90's at MWC


A "block" of exercise time, typically a sub-section of an exercise. An analyst will normally analyse and exercise one serial at a time, and it is usual for the exercise data to be broken down into serials.


A sensor is defined as source of bearing-related information. As such, it could clearly be an acoustic sensor such as a sonar, but could also be a periscope or radar. Debrief makes no specific assumptions regarding what type of sensor is being represented.

Sensor contact

This is an individual contact recorded on a sensor, a single bearing line reaching from the sensor location (origin) along the contact bearing to the contact range.


The layers, projection details, and settings of any GUI-elements for the current view

Slant range

The line of sight distance between two points, not at the same level relative to a specific datum. Normally in Debrief range is just calculated in two-dimensions (at the surface), but slant ranges can be requested via the Preferences window. Slant ranges are particularly useful in Debrief when analysing the proximity of two entities that are very close when measured at the surface but who possess a significant depth separation.

Snail trail

A mode within Debrief where only the current vessel position plus a short back-track of previous positions is shown.

Stepper control

The Stepper Control is the collection of controls at the top of the Tote panel. The Stepper Control provides controls to move the current time backwards and forwards, controls to edit the stepper itself (edit properties and change display mode).


This pair of text characters contained in an REP file indicate the formatting to be applied to this particular track/fix/annotation, although they can be over-ridden once the data is open in Debrief.


A specific time of interest, particularly the start of a particular event. Contexts typically have their own convention of t-zero. Lightweight torpedo launches use weapon-splash time.

TMA solution

Warships (submarines in particular) use Target Motion Analysis (TMA) to produce an estimate of target range. course and speed when the target is held on a bearing/frequency only sensor. TMA solutions frequently represent uncertainty over target location by representing the location as an ellipse - given by a centre-point, an orientation and dimensions for the maximum and minimum axis (as diameter, not radius).


A series of positions recorded for a particular vehicle (ship, submarine, helo, etc). A track has its own characteristics such as colour, label and symbol frequency, and the symbol used to represent it when the symbol highlighter is in use (see Chapter 6, Symbol sets).


A GUI panel located by default at the lower-left hand side of the Debrief window. The Tote contains the Time Stepper, beneath which are shown the primary and secondary tracks, when assigned. When stepping forward through a serial the Tote contains data calculated from the current vessel positions.


The Vector Product Format is the format of vectored data which may be viewed by Debrief. The main type of VPF data is the Vector Map Level 0, an unclassified global database which includes coastlines, national borders and depth contours. Its supplier ( WWW.NIMA.MIL) describes it as: The Vector Product Format (VPF) is a standard format, structure, and organization for large geographic databases that are based on a georelational data model and are intended for direct use.


The eXtensible Markup Language, as recommend by the World Wide Web consortium.

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