By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nikki Carter
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 27, 2009 - U.S. Joint Forces Command officials called on warfighters to help in evaluating the effectiveness of the command's high-technology systems and to offer suggestions for improvements. With assistance from sailors of Pre-Commissioning Unit Gravely, the command's Joint Systems Integration Center is conducting an assessment on how well the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Image Product Library operates with the Global Command and Control System, or GCCS.
GCCS-Joint is a command, control, communications, computer and intelligence system that provides worldwide connectivity for information resources. It fuses command-and-control capabilities into an interoperable system by exchanging imagery, intelligence, status-of-forces and planning information.
Using Gravely's operators allows integration center personnel to assess how an operator uses the command-and-control system in a real-world situation and resolve any interoperability issues with the system in real-time, officials said. In turn, Gravely's crew members can familiarize themselves with an up-to-date system similar to one being installed on their ship.
Using real operators will enable people at the center "to identify whether or not something is not so intuitive and see if people who are creating the system will have to take it back to the drawing board," said Air Force Capt. Dan Shinohara, the integration center's project lead.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Dave Yee, operations department leading chief petty officer, said one of the challenges pre-commissioning units face is finding opportunities for sailors to see and use "new and exciting" equipment and technologies.
"It gives our sailors a chance see what new technologies they'll be using as warfighters when the ship is commissioned and deployed, ahead of everybody else," Yee said. "It gives them that much more of a leg up so they're prepared when they do see these systems get fielded to use them and utilize them properly."
The sailors said the imagery tools are an improvement over what they have experienced with other systems.
"I got a chance to familiarize myself with the system before it actually gets put onto the ship," said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Floyd Bussey, a Gravely sailor in the operations department. "Hopefully, I will get to play around with it a little more, learn about it a little more, and share the information I learned here with my shipmates. I've never seen a GCCS system before where you can pull up an image and put it on a chart."
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Gonzalez said she had some experience with the system, but had not used it since 2003. "Being here helped me refresh my skills with the system," Gonzalez said.
The Joint Systems Integration Center provides combatant commanders, services and agencies unbiased evaluations of existing and emerging command-and-control capabilities, and recommendations to resolve interoperability problems that impede operations. Additionally, the center looks for opportunities to exploit new technology to give warfighters the tools they need for operational success.
Shinohara said if center does find a problem while assessing a system, two out of three times it can turn around and work with the engineers in the building as well as engineers from the customers -- in this case, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency -- and fix the problem on site.
"However, if we can't [fix it], we package up all the data and [the agency will] take it back to their labs and fix it," Shinohara said. "The intricate part of this particular assessment is making sure when the intel analyst and targeteers out in the field are trying to put bombs on target, this interface has to be fast and give good products, so the warfighters out in the field can achieve mission success. That is what these folks here are doing for us and doing for [the agency]."
(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nikki Carter serves in the U.S. Joint Forces Command public affairs office.)