As announced in a recent press release, US Active Army units have been testing a Lockheed Martin web-based system that combines the power of Google Earth, Command and Control web applications and existing tactical communications systems to deliver a common operating picture of the battlefield to any network user with a laptop. Command Web provides users with a web-based view of the mission command picture to both the commander in the tactical operating center as well as warfighters in the battlespace.
The Command Web system is being tested by soldiers in theater to validate the system’s architecture, requirements and user interface design. Both the US Army and Lockheed Martin are using feedback from the testing to refine requirements and prioritize ongoing development for future system rollouts that will continue to expand, ultimately providing as much as 80 percent of current mission command functionality via the web environment.
Designed with a standard Army Battle Command Systems interface, Command Web mimics the functionality, naming conventions and other attributes of the Army’s primary common operational picture viewer that is used in all theaters. With its web-base capability, Command Web significantly reduces the logistical support footprint for the operational user. The system’s software developer's kit enables rapid third-party development of new warfighting capabilities.
Command Web is based the US National Security Agency's Ozone framework, which offers a non-proprietary, government-owned solution that allows for maximum interoperability. Since the Ozone framework is also used by the web version of the US Distributed Common Ground System – Army (DCGS-A), the Army’s ISR enterprise, it lays the groundwork for future interoperability across the intelligence and operations communities.
Ozone is a object-oriented framework for developing advanced web applications. By shifting to this framework, the US Army expects to cut millions of dollars in licensing and hardware costs and give more soldiers access to intelligence. The framework’s success, however, seems to depend on the willingness of software developers to divide their products into widgets, and those developers warn that they do not yet know how they will turn a profit under such a strategy.
US DoD intelligence officials started talking about the need for a common framework almost three years ago. All the services and organizations have very specific requirements and functionalities. There are unique things within each service and program, and then there are the combatant commands with their own unique requirements. Between all of them, there are a lot of different analytical capabilities. The key point of the US DoD strategy is to share those capabilities and not duplicating effort so much.
“Command Web extends the collaborative capabilities of mission command systems for those who don't have the real deal," said Lt. Col. Thomas Bentzel, the US Army's product manager for Tactical Mission Command. “It's got great potential for expansion and convergence with other systems.”
“Command Web brings the big picture down to the company level,” said Jim Quinn, vice president with C4ISR Systems for Lockheed Martin IS&GS-Defense. “It also provides any user with access to the Army's tactical network with actionable data to support their missions”
- Contract Award: Lockheed Martin to improve intelligence sharing capability of US DoD (link)