New software opens the door to real-time data sharing for Marines

The Marine Corps is getting closer to fielding a software-based system that will allow Marines to get mission-critical information via a mobile device, without having to resort to independent, sometimes incompatible, tactical data systems.

The Tactical Service Orientated Architecture, or TSOA, is an open-architecture collection of software for command and control applications Marine Air-Ground Task Force Command, Control and Communications, according to an announcement by the Marine Corps System Command.

TSOA, which is nearing the completion of its first phase of fielding, will eventually be fielded to combat operations centers to provide service throughout the Corps.

“It’s not just any information, it’s the information they need and subscribe to,” said project officer Maj. Austin Bonner. “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.”

With an open architecture, ground and command users of TSO will have better interoperability not only with Marine units but with other naval partners and other Defense Department users, the systems command said. And the customizable software in TSOA—available through the Marine Corps Software Resource Center app store—eliminates the need for any specialized hardware.

“The app store will enable us to deploy software faster to the field,” said TSOA lead engineer Vivian Pecus. “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.”

The Marines most recently tested TSOA in October during Agile Bloodhound, an annual exercise in Hawaii for testing the integration of new technologies. One other app TSOA was tested with is the SUDA, or the Small Unit Decision Aids, which puts tactical data from multiple sources into an interactive map that allows Marines to track their routes and share information with the operations center and other Marines.

TSOA grew out of 2004 DOD directive, Data Sharing in a Net-Centric Department of Defense, that instructed all of the military services to develop and implement a service-oriented architecture. After deploying TSOA to ground and command elements, the Marines expect next to incorporate it in to air and logistics elements.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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