DISA set to deploy new command and control software suite

Block V relies heavily on commercial off-the-shelf software for much of its architecture

The Defense Information Systems Agency has cleared the last hurdle for full deployment of Global Command and Control System – Joint (GCCS-J) Block V, the last planned version of the suite of software that gives the national leadership and joint commanders the tools to analyze situations and to direct military units in the field.

Cheryl Roby, acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration, signed off on SORTS (Status of Resources and Training System) version 4.2 on August 28, completing the development and testing program for GCCS-J. The other two elements of Block V—the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES) 4.2 and Global 4.2—had already been approved for deployment, and DISA's GCCS team has begun deployment to the 53 sites worldwide where GCCS-J is used.

Block V is a departure from previous versions of the GCCS platform, in that it relies heavily on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software for much of its architecture. It replaces the Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) Common Operating Environment (COE) used by previous versions of GCCS-J. The system relies on software from Oracle, including the BEA application server, and Java, and it also supports integration with other commercial software, including Google Maps support.

“The move to Block V has marked the movement away from the DII COE,” said Kim Rice, deputy program manager for GCCS-J. “We're no longer doing segmented-software releases, which means… we're able to get (enhancements) out to the field much faster than we were able to before.”

Additionally, the new approach will cost less in the field to manage, she said. “It's a huge thing for both us and the field.”

Using COTS has also helped GCCS-J meet a number of specific requirements that users had requested. One of those areas is in managing “tracks”--information on the movement of units, ships, aircraft and other moving items of interest through space and time. “From the COTS,” said Rice, “we were able to increase from 20,000 tracks to 100,000 tracks.”

Much of the future work on GCCS-J will include supporting the work being done by the services to build parts of their own GCCS applications on GCCS-J. The Army has already done significant development on top of a previous release of Global with its Strategic Battle Command application, said Navy Commander Dave Stanfield, head of the GCCS-J program team's testing branch. “The Navy has endeavored to follow that model,” he said. “But that has not progressed as fast as the Army has.”

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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