MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia — Marine Corps Systems Command is nearing completion of the initial phase of fielding for the Tactical Service Orientated Architecture which allows users to share or request mission-critical information on-demand.
Under development by the program management office for Marine Air-Ground Task Force Command, Control and Communications at MCSC, TSOA is a collection of software that will provide a common, open architecture for command and control applications across the MAGTF. This will enable Marines to more rapidly conduct command and control. Instead of depending on multiple independent tactical data systems that are not always compatible with each other, Marines will subscribe to collective data, provided as a service via TSOA. The system will also save the Marine Corps money by replacing aging and obsolete software.
“It’s not just any information, it’s the information they need and subscribe to,” said Maj. Austin Bonner, MC3 TSOA project officer. “This means a Marine on patrol can subscribe to critical information, pertinent to his location and have that information exchanged seamlessly across the enterprise to a future handheld device.”
TSOA software will be fielded to combat operation centers hardware and will network with other COCs to enable service across the Marine Corps. This will provide operational forces better information to accomplish their mission.
Currently intended for Marine Corps ground and command elements, users connected to TSOA can expect enhanced interoperability with naval partners through wider Department of Defense service-orientated architecture efforts. TSOA stores customizable software adaptable for current mission needs and requires no specialized hardware, eliminating the need to purchase new equipment.
One feature of TSOA is the Marine Corps Software Resource Center, an app store that will provide tactical applications faster than current acquisition methods by allowing COCs to download mission-related apps when needed.
“The app store will enable us to deploy software faster to the field,” said Vivian Pecus, MC3 TSOA lead engineer. “In the past we have had fast, agile software development efforts, but we were unable to deploy it as quickly as we will be able to via the MCSRC.”
MCSRC will be available via Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services, or MCEITS, the enterprise IT capability that enables access to Corps network enterprise data, information, applications and services. Starting as early as April 2016, the software will be rolled out over an 18- month period, said Pecus.
How will the MCSRC app store benefit Marines? It will make apps such as the Mobile Patrol Planning and Assessment Tool, or MP2AT, more readily available. The MP2AT enables Marines to visually plan out patrol routes on their desktop applications and then import them to a hand-held device. Along the planned patrol route Marines can inform the app of any changes or concerns, which will be transmitted via network-on-the-move vehicles to the command as an update. TSOA can then share real-time, high-priority data with other patrols in the same location.
TSOA is the Marine Corps tactical-level response to the 2004 DoD Directive for Data Sharing in a Net-Centric Department of Defense. The directive instructs all services to adopt and implement a service-oriented architecture. After TSOA is deployed to ground and command elements, the next step is to provide that same support to air and logistics combat elements.
TSOA was most recently tested in October 2015 at Agile Bloodhound, an annual integration and demonstration event highlighting research and development efforts and associated technologies that support expeditionary warfighters. Over the course of the event MCSC tested TSOA using the MP2AT app in conjunction with the Small Unit Decision Aids, or SUDA, app.
The SUDA application imports and organizes tactical data from multiple sources, and shares it in an interactive map, providing a more complete sight picture to the user. During the exercise, participants successfully used both apps to record their routes and relay immediate information to an accompanying network-on-the-move vehicle for transmission back to the COC.
These new capabilities will provide more information across the battlefield, informing Marines and making them more agile, flexible and adaptable, Bonner said. With an increase in the exchange of data, the Marine will be able to respond more effectively to emerging threats.
Among other duties, Marine Corps Systems Command oversees the development and acquisition of all Marine Corps command, control and communications systems.