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Handheld Tablet Improves Situational Awareness For Marines
by U.S. Marine Corps Matt Gonzales, Systems Command
October 30, 2019

During Island Marauder 2019 in September, Marines demonstrated the effectiveness of several Marine Corps Systems Command technologies ... including a handheld system that helps the warfighter navigate on the battlefield.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Common Handheld is a tablet-based communication system that enhances situational awareness on the battlefield. The device enables dismounted Marines to leverage commercial smart devices to plot and share locations.

A U.S. Marine with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 uses a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Common Handheld to direct machine gun fire during a platoon-supported attack range at Giskas, Norway on August 7, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gloria Lepko)
A U.S. Marine with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 uses a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Common Handheld to direct machine gun fire during a platoon-supported attack range at Giskas, Norway on August 7, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gloria Lepko)

The device includes pre-installed tactical applications to eliminate the need to juggle multiple technologies for various capabilities, lightening the load for the warfighter.

“MCH is essentially an interactive tactical mapping program with a GPS navigation software and a chat functionality,” said Maj. Richard Beeson, MCH project officer at MCSC. “The technology feeds the battalion’s current operational picture with real-time friendly force positions and allows this battlespace awareness to be shared down to the squad-leader level.”

The tablet feeds the information into Networking On-the-Move, while simultaneously transmitting it to the Combat Operations Center, where command leaders can use the information to make critical battlefield decisions.

Through MCH, commanders can disseminate orders, graphics and digital data, providing Marines the ability to visualize the commander’s intent and scheme of maneuver.

“It helps Marines to share enemy locations in real-time in an easily understood digital, moving map format,” added Beeson.

MCH enables warfighters to pass messages to one another in real-time—similar to text messaging—allowing the commander to make faster, more effective, decisions. It also assists the warfighter in deciphering whether an explosion was caused by enemy or friendly fire.

U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 relay information through the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Common Handheld during a platoon-supported attack range at Giskas, Norway on August 7, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gloria Lepko)
U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 relay information through the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Common Handheld during a platoon-supported attack range at Giskas, Norway on August 7, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gloria Lepko)

“MCH is a Command and Control situational awareness system that gives the squad leader and platoon commander a better understanding of the battlefield to make tactical decisions,” said Justin Meidinger, an engineer for MCH. “This system helps them have a better idea of what is going on around them.”

Earlier this year, the Corps fielded an early release version of the system to Marines. In fiscal year 2020, the warfighter will receive an updated version of the MCH that allows Marines to communicate with one another through several additional joint communication systems.

At Island Marauder 2019, Marines demonstrated the effectiveness and interoperability of MCH by linking it with other satellite technologies. The risk-assessment evaluation is intended to reduce miscommunication among Marines who use communication technologies. Beeson raved about the benefits of MCH and how the system supports the warfighter.

“MCH allows for communication, collaboration and coordinating among units,” said Beeson. “It helps everyone to be on same page. MCH increases the digital lethality of Marine infantry squads while reducing the risk of friendly fire.”

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