Getting to Know DIMOC: What It Offers, How You Can Help

By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

In the Defense Department, we observe lots of anniversaries, commemorations and other historical events that might require digging up records, old photos and film reels to help us provide a fitting tribute.

But finding that imagery isn’t always easy. That’s where the Defense Imagery Management Operations Center can help.

DIMOC currently has 2 million archived items that can help civilians and service members get historic imagery they need. It also affords military public affairs folks an avenue to better coordinate their productions.

Still have some questions? Here are some answers to the DIMOC basics.

A Navajo code talker relays a message on a field radio. The code talkers served in the South Pacific during World War II and were kept a secret until 1968 when the Navajo code was finally declassified July 07, 1945. Marine Corps photo released by Cpl. Alexandra Vazquez

A Navajo code talker relays a message on a field radio. The code talkers served in the South Pacific during World War II and were kept a secret until 1968 when the Navajo code was finally declassified July 07, 1945. Marine Corps photo released by Cpl. Alexandra Vazquez

DIMOC Consists of 3 Elements

The Joint Combat Camera Center: These are the folks who plan and coordinate combat camera and visual information (VI) support to the DoD combatant commands and the Joint Chiefs. They also manage imagery sent in from the field that supports DoD operations around the world – both imagery released to the public via the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) and imagery that’s authorized for DoD use only.

The Visual Information Records Center: These folks preserve and digitize historic physical imagery (printed photos, videotapes, film, etc.) and make permanent digital archives of them. DoD personnel and organizations with a common access card can download this imagery at DIMOC.mil. The Records Center is the only DoD link to the National Archives for visual information.

The Visual Information Services Center: These people can help you with any questions or concerns you have when it comes to finding the content you need within DIMOC. Call 888-743-4662 or visit DIMOC.mil for customer service help.

What’s on DIMOC.mil That’s Not on DVIDS?

A burning oil well in Kuwait spews flame and smoke into the air after it was set afire by retreating Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm. Courtesy of DIMOC

A burning oil well in Kuwait spews flame and smoke into the air after it was set afire by retreating Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm. Courtesy of DIMOC

DVIDS aggregates content uploaded from combat camera and public affairs folks over the past six months.

After that, it’s moved over to DIMOC.mil.

If you’re looking for imagery from observances, commemorations or anniversaries – such as the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor or the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm – start at DIMOC.mil.

You’ll likely find photos from recent anniversaries, as well as from the original time frame.

If you’re having trouble, though, contact the VI Services Center to get help in locating what you want.

Older photos are often moved from DIMOC.mil to the National Archives, so if you can’t find something on DIMOC, look there.

How You Can Add To the Collection

DoD organizations are known to keep a lot of physical imagery in non-climate-controlled environments, which puts it at risk for deterioration. So DIMOC is looking for anyone, civilian or military, who may have DoD photos, slides, videos or film that can be archived.

U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia John Gunther Dean, wearing a suit, and others fly aboard a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 during operation Eagle Pull in Cambodia, April 12, 1975. The operation is the evacuation of Americans and civilians from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia John Gunther Dean, wearing a suit, and others fly aboard a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 during operation Eagle Pull in Cambodia, April 12, 1975. The operation is the evacuation of Americans and civilians from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In 2009, the Obama administration issued an executive order stating that military operations have to be declassified after 25 years, which means that formerly classified imagery might now be available for viewing. A lot of the items DIMOC is currently working to digitize fall under that category, and you can help add to the collection. So if you think you have something useful, contact DIMOC and let them know.

“We want people to know there’s a place for all the stuff that’s in your garage,” said Dan Abrams, the director of the DIMOC VI Records Center. ”There are probably thousands of places where some guy’s got really significant, historical items out there that we would love to get our hands on to put into the record, because it’s the story of the country and our military history.”

He said in some cases, former employees have called DIMOC to offer up old records they kept when a base closed or a unit was deactivated.

That’s how DIMOC stumbled upon imagery of the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia during the evacuation of Phnom Pehn at the end of the Vietnam War in early 1975. Andy Bolinger, a former U.S. Marine Corps air crewman who had been part of what was known as Operation Eagle Pull, had 35 mm negatives of photos he took that day. While he wasn’t a designated photographer, he often took photos, knowing he was participating in history. He gifted the negatives of that day to the Records Center.

If You’re Planning An Event, DIMOC Can Help With Archival Imagery

DoD public affairs folks – If you’re planning an event but aren’t sure how to get combat camera support, go to DIMOC.mil and click on the link to JCCC. That tells you how to request coverage to help coordinate combat cameramen to shoot an event for you, as well as make sure the imagery gets to the JCCC after.

“If I’m a person who wants to get some imagery and I don’t know where to find it, or I want to get a copy of something, I can go to DIMOC.mil, and there’s a drop-down menu about customer service,” Abrams said.

When it comes to searching and planning, give researchers as much time as you can. They might need it, since there’s a lot of information to scour!

Those are the basics of DIMOC. If you have questions, feel free to contact their customer service number listed above!

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