DVIDS – News – Marine Corps Fields Advanced Visual Information Systems

Keeping up with the latest technology is a challenge we all know – from our phones to our televisions, the industry is constantly changing and improving our devices. Marine Corps Systems Command’s Digital Media Systems program team secured after ensuring that communications strategy Marines had modern cameras, computers, and all the paraphernalia that came with them.

To meet the needs of the fleet, the DMS program team at MCSC, the benchmark program for the professional field of communication strategy and operations, developed the visual information acquisition system. The VIAS kit provides all the tools visual information operators need to collect video and photos to tell the Marine Corps story.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wade Spradlin joined MCSC in 2019 and led the DMS team using a direct outreach approach he learned from a former Program Officer.

“He held monthly calls with the fleet and listened to the good, the bad or the ugly with the program office and how it affected the fleet operator,” Spradlin recalled. “So once I got on deck two years ago, I started instituting a monthly call.”

The team identified supply chain issues and equipment utilization issues using feedback from fleet leaders and operators. Updated kits were needed to effectively support the Corps’ public affairs and combat camera mission.

The team then set out to find new equipment to adapt to the relatively new professional field of communication strategy, created in 2017.

“The main goals were to combine equipment sets from older public affairs systems and combat camera systems. And second, to make sure they are equipped with the latest technologies available for acquisition, transmission and image delivery,” said Matthew Willis, senior systems engineer for the Digital Media Systems program.

To align the Marine Corps with industry, the DMS team chose to test a VIAS using mirrorless cameras and compact camcorders. This new technology aligns with the Force Design 2030 goals of a smaller, lighter and faster force with more technologically relevant gear.

The new kits include a mirrorless camera with significant low-light capabilities and additional lenses for still imaging, a portable 4k UHD camcorder for videography, and updated laptops for mobile workstations. The entire kit and holster weigh less than 75 pounds, a significant weight reduction for Marines from the approximately 110 pounds of previous kits.

“The cameras we have now are much larger, cinema-grade cameras,” Spradlin said. “This new technology allows the warfighter to reduce the footprint of Marines on the ground.”

After a year and a half of identifying and testing equipment in austere conditions, the DMS team began shipping the kits to the fleet. As part of this effort, the team helped the unit learn how to set up the cameras, walk them through function checks, and any other necessary familiarization with the new equipment.

Prior to MCSC, Spradlin was an operator in the professional field of communications strategy. In his experience, replacing and repairing broken camera gear can be a challenge.

“We would have broken material, and it would just sit on the shelf,” he described. “You would pull out your camera system and find that one of your lenses was broken. So now you are without this objective and the local units should come out and try to get this fixed with local funds.

MCSC incorporated a 3% spare parts buffer into initial supply contracts to address broken equipment issues. This buffer will make it easier for units to replace their gear through the serviceable issue point. After exchanging a damaged lens, there is a contract with the program office for professional camera services for repairs.

“The RIP collects this broken piece of equipment and sends it to a repair center where it is able to fix it and put it back on the shelf. So the next user comes in with broken equipment and it’s a constant revolving door,” Spradlin explained.

MCSC expects to complete the rollout of the kits by the end of the fiscal year.

Imagery is a vital part of the Corps’ history, from the flag raised on Iwo Jima to the more recent evacuation from Afghanistan. These upgraded kits allow Marines to continue to capture the essence and spirit of what it means to be a Marine.

Date taken: 21.04.2022
Date posted: 22.04.2022 15:46
Story ID: 419100
Location: QUANTICO, Virginia, USA

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Briana R. Cross