Social Media Network For Marines To Support Needs
by Matt Gonzales, U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command
Marine Corps Systems Command drew inspiration from social media
and video games to create an information hub catering to the needs
of the 21st century Marine.
In February 2021, MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons
launched the Infantry Weapons Information Tool, an intuitive website
inspired by social media that aims to increase communication among
the Fleet and better support their needs.
January 15, 2021 - A Marine with 5th Marines reviews and provides feedback on a new Marine Corps website, the Infantry Weapons Information Tool, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. This easy-to-use, Common Access Card-enabled site provides Marines with relevant technical doctrine, training manuals, instructional videos and other tools needed to make them a more effective force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Amy Forsythe)
This easy-to-use, Common Access Card-enabled website provides
Marines with relevant technical doctrine, training manuals,
instructional videos and other tools associated with PM IW equipment
to make them a more effective force.
“We wanted to fill a
need for this generation of Marines,” said Joshua Adams, a project
officer for Company and Battalion Mortars with PM IW. “Our research
and brainstorming led to the creation of a hub that Marines can use
to learn more about systems within PM IW.”
the site incorporates a user interface similar to the video game
“Call of Duty.” It also includes a chat feature resembling an online
message board or Facebook thread, providing familiar online elements
for today’s Marine to ask and answer questions about their
“We’ve essentially created a professional social
media network for Marines,” said Adams.
Everything is centrally located.
Traditionally, access to training manuals can be limited to a
few personnel within a unit. Instead of having to refer to physical
documents or visit multiple websites to obtain training or safety
information, Marines can leverage this site to learn more about
their gear at any time or from any place.
For example, a Marine with a question about the M320A1 can post the
inquiry within the site’s virtual discussion room to see if a fellow
Marine can answer. If they cannot, MCSC representatives can route
the question to the system’s subject matter expert at PM IW, who can
provide the information directly to that Marine.
discussion forum, Marines can have secure, open conversations about
employment techniques, best practices and other topics,” said CWO4
Dave Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer.
centrally located, allowing us to go to one location and pull
information quickly, which makes life easier for Marines.”
Adams said the site fosters direct communications to Marines at all
levels. The platform equips the warfighter with a quick, useful
avenue for collecting necessary information to more efficiently and
effectively complete their mission.
“We are providing a
single location or access point to information that Marines may not
know how to find,” said Adams.
The Infantry Weapons Information
Tool fills a critical need for the Marine Corps.
In recent years, PM IW realized many Marines
were not consistently receiving the instructions and technical
guidance needed for their equipment. Not having easily accessible
information on their systems affects their ability to carry out
When the information wasn’t there, Marines adapted.
They referred to open sources, such as social media, to find
immediate answers. Marines posted videos on their own social
channels, asking very in-depth, technical questions. Their peers and
seniors answered the questions.
“As a PM, we asked ourselves
what we were missing,” said Adams. “It was abundantly clear that
Marines did not have a professional forum to search for information
or even chat about experiences they have with our gear.”
Under the direction of Lt. Col. Tim Hough, the program manager of
Infantry Weapons, that became the mission: find a way for Marines to
unite in a professional forum and provide them with the technical
doctrine, training and instructional videos to increase their
knowledge and effectiveness.
“Keeping the Commandant’s
Planning Guidance in mind, we are set on ensuring all Marines have
everything they need to accomplish their mission anywhere in the
world,” said Hough. “In the most austere environments, Marines
should have access to vital information necessary to accomplish
Hough’s team reached out to former Marine
Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity Commanding Officer Col.
Robert Bailey and current Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Michael
Liguori with an idea for a digital platform designed to help answer
Marines’ equipment-related questions.
Both men supported the
idea. Bailey connected PM IW with MCTSSA’s Warfighter Support
Division, a team of technical experts, to support conceptualization
and development efforts. After a few months of planning, the WSD
developed prototype sites to peruse and schemes from which to
“The MCTSSA team wrapped their arms around this
effort and made it what it is today,” said Adams. “We wanted to
provide Marines with a capability they never had before. And with
the technical expertise of the team at MCTSSA, I think we’ve done
that and more.”
MCSC and MCTSSA spent more than 1,000 hours
developing and testing the site. Edgar Valles, information systems
manager for WSD, was part of that effort.
“We’ve created a
fast and consistent browsing experience for Marines,” said Valles.
“The site makes it simple for users to find an item and its
Liguori commended both MCSC and
MCTSSA for their efforts in developing and launching a site designed
to help Marines get the information they need more quickly.
“This effort is a great example of MCTSSA’s Warfighter Support
Division led by [MCTSSA WSD Director] Maj. Lucas Burke to further
operationalize its support to both the program managers and
warfighters, with its fierce engagement and relentless focus to make
Marines more capable,” said Liguori.
Website Already Popular Among Marines
Tomlinson said Marine feedback on the Infantry Weapons
Information Tool has been overwhelmingly positive thus far.
In January, a group of Marines tested the site aboard Marine
Corps Base Camp Pendleton. They provided feedback, including
recommendations for improvement, which PM IW and MCTSSA
representatives have already implemented.
“Going straight to
the end-user is a critical requirement for agile development and it
allowed our team to make real-time updates based on feedback from
the Marines,” said Burke.
Sgt. Nicholas Delgado, an
infantryman with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines who participated in the
event, praised the site’s usability, which he believes can save
Marines time and resources.
“I’m not very tech savvy, but
this website brings together all of our [publications] and will help
streamline our training,” said Delgado.
The site is already
blossoming in popularity among Marines. The 10 Marines who
participated in the testing event immediately began sharing the link
location with their fellow Marines. Within a week, the site had
nearly 1,000 visits, said Tomlinson
“After the testing event,
the site quickly gained popularity,” said Tomlinson. “It’s exciting
and encouraging to know Marines have responded so positively to the
Adams said the team plans to make the website
accessible on smartphones, tablets and personal computers in the
future. He implores Marines to take full advantage of the platform
to explore its features and provide necessary feedback.
tool is for Marines,” said Adams. “And if there is something Marines
want or need, it is our job to get that to them. We will adjust this
tool to fit the needs of our Marines.”
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