From: The Imperial Palace.
They tell terrain AND weather, which is quite neat. If the unit is in forest, you see a pic of tanks or infantry mingled with pine trees. If it's in light hills, you see rolling hills in the background. If it's in mountains, you see craggy stuff. If plains, flatland. If a town, houses. If a city, bricks and stuff.
Also, the images of different nationalities of infantry look different. You get to recognize Italians, Rumanians, Hungarians, etc pretty quickly just from their avatars and garb.
That said, the drawings are not *essential*, because you can get the same info from the top of the interface and other places. So you COULD live without it. I know nothing about modding, so I'm just guessing, but I would guess that this would be moddable.
Edit: Looks like someone has already started modding out part of the portraits. See this thread: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3145342
< Message edited by Grotius -- 8/4/2012 7:34:56 AM >