JUNE 15, 2016, MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – Marine Corps Systems Command is rolling out a major tactical software update that will give leaders improved situational awareness and decision-making capabilities on the battlefield.
The Joint Tactical Common Operational Picture Workstation, or JTCW, combines seven tactical applications into one user interface. It is a single digital display of relevant operational information shared by battalion and higher leadership connected on the Global Combat and Control System Tactical Combat Operations network. GCCS-TCO is the network of tactical servers that enable information sharing, ranging from the positioning of friendly and enemy troops to strategic bridges and roads. JTCW was developed by the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Command, Control and Communications program office at MCSC, the acquisition command of the Marine Corps for ground weapon and information technology systems.
“The goal of JTCW is to help commanders make the best decisions in the field,” said Jason Howe, project officer for JTCW. “Think back to old movies where a group of commanders are in a combat operation center huddled around a table map with figurines reflecting the battlefield. JTCW is exactly that, but in a digital form.”
JTCW enhances the Command and Control Personal Computer, or C2PC, and is the standard common operational picture software used by the MAGTF. It integrates C2PC’s interactive map and other features into the suite. The software provides a geospatial interface that presents the battlefield in near real-time, and blends digital maps, tactical objects and plans in one workstation to help leaders make more informed decisions.
The new version, JTCW 1.3, includes changes to the workstation’s user interface, supports additional platforms operating in a secure host Windows 10 operating system and establishes remote software updates across the GCSS-TCO network, making the user experience more intuitive and flexible.
“One of the key factors in software development is ease of use,” said Dr. Jorge Esparza, project engineer for JTCW. “Because of Marine feedback, we gave common mission-related tasks higher precedence on the taskbar so they are easier to access. Additionally, the new version’s modern design requires fewer clicks on a more familiar ribbon-like toolbar to find what you need.”
These changes increase speed of use and information gathering by providing a familiar, easy-to-understand interface.
Another new feature of JTCW 1.3 is web-based access to the common operational picture, or COP. Originally the software was designed to run only on the computer it was installed on. The update allows the administrator computer to host multiple users through a web application called C2PC Web App, which is linked to the host computer. Secured through administrative privileges and common access card authentication, users can connect to the COP with a web browser to obtain tactical information.
“With the web application, commands do not need to have multiple computers running JTCW,” said Darren Piper, a program analyst with JTCW. “It also gives them flexibility of the devices they can use.”
JTCW 1.3 can also be remotely updated over the GCCS-TCO network. Updates will be pushed across the network, efficiently keeping workstations secure and up-to-date, said Ken Hunter, program analyst for JTCW. Remote updates will save time and cost, and make it easier for units in the field to maintain the software.
JTCW 1.3, planned for fielding in spring 2017, will provide Marines a more agile, informative common operating picture, according to hunter.
“We want to integrate tactical information in a way that makes the Marine’s job easier,” Hunter said. “Increasing the intuitiveness and security functionality of our software allows Marines to focus on their warfighting mission.”