With a little help from the Navy, Marines are ringing in the New Year with a new set of tools to manage their complete inventory of ammunition and associated services through a revamped all-in-one software suite.
An information technology development team at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Corona Division in Southern California recently upgraded and expanded the Marine Ammunition Knowledge Enterprise (MAKE) application, a suite of software tools that makes managing Marine Corps ammunition simpler than ever. As the Marine Corps ground ammunition enterprise information portal, MAKE includes eight software tools designed with a modern, user-friendly interface to allow Marines to manage ammunition inventory, acquisition, certifications, safety, logistics, service life and training.
According to developers, MAKE provides a secure unified access point to business applications with robust data mining and knowledge management capabilities. MAKE’s suite of apps supports requirements mandated by existing Marine Corps policies and programs for Marines in ammo and related specialties, regardless of geographic location.
“Every bullet, grenade and mortar has to be properly managed and accounted for long before it ever meets its intended target,” said Navy Capt. Khary Hembree-Bey, commanding officer for NSWC Corona. “Our goal in reworking and improving MAKE was to focus on the needs of every Marine with a role in that management process – whether at home or down range – and ensure they are outfitted with a quality, modernized product that aids them in more efficiently doing their jobs.”
Notably, MAKE will be hosted in the cloud, marking a significant step toward the Navy’s goal of providing data-driven, cloud-based solutions to enhance total readiness. A cloud-based solution provides worldwide accessibility in the field, speed in acquisition and delivery, and improved security.
As the Department of the Navy (DON) continues to lean on technology and connections to build a more networked fleet and expand its ability to dominate the threat, applications like MAKE will transform the way the American warfighter does business.
“The bottom line is any user who has been granted access to the MAKE enterprise system has the potential to access ammunition, safety, financial and other information associated with a specific DODIC (Department of Defense Identification Code),” said Steve Wann, portfolio manager at NSWC Corona. “Whether that’s a video on how to pack it, safely handle it, retrieve general inventory numbers, or analyze budget impacts, all of that is at your fingertips.”
Benefits of the MAKE app for the Marine Corps and the Navy are multi-faceted. While the Marine Corps version of MAKE has existed in various truncated forms since 2006, the new upgrades, fixes and additions built by the Navy’s team at NSWC Corona increase functionality and simplify its use. A dynamic, scalable user experience design makes the applications compatible with multiple hardware devices and browsers. The improved user interface provides an appearance that mimics other popular applications and search engines that service members are accustomed to, such as Facebook and Google, to encourage Marines to embrace the technology.
“We wanted to leverage Naval Sea Systems Command enterprise capabilities to produce something that really makes a difference in day-to-day operations for our Marine brothers and sisters,” said Hembree-Bey. “By developing tools like MAKE that allow them to spend more time focusing on meeting the mission and less time navigating a bunch of separate, more complex management processes, we hope to contribute to their overall operational readiness. When you can do that, you take responsibility for your role in strengthening and supporting Integrated American Naval Power. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
Two of the programs, eQual (Electronic Qualification) and EES (Environmental Explosive Safety), are used by the entire Marine Corps environmental and explosive safety community at facilities that require ratings and compliance for ammunition storage. eQual tracks explosive safety qualifications for more than 1,500 Marines and includes their qualifications, certifications, education, unit and service branch. The EES program is used to manage explosive safety facilities and inspections. Logging into EES pulls eQual data automatically and allows the inspectors to review the electronic qualifications of each Marine at a facility, before an inspection begins. The software’s ability to eliminate time killers and administrative burdens for an already-busy fleet of Marines only emphasizes the incentive for widespread use.
The Department of Defense (DOD) Explosives Safety Board took notice of all the buzz surrounding MAKE in July, naming it a “Best in breed” product with the Navy agreeing to use the app, as well. Similarly, Warren C. Clare, Marine Corps Program Manager for Ammunition (PMM-152), issued a commendation of his own in October. The latter was imparted not only due to the resulting advancement of Marine Corps objectives, but also for its adoption of modern tools and technologies, including advanced collaboration, automation, continuous integration and deployment, cloud-based development, security and operations (DevSecOps) and agnostic design principles.
“It saves a lot of time and highly improves functionality and versatility for us,” said Cody Taylor, IT project manager for PMM-152. “Instead of manually checking everyone’s training records, they can hit the ground running. For us, those are the types of things that are impressive. The other services can’t do that.”
The Marine Corps has turned to MAKE to roll out its munition training videos, as well. Now, Marines can download MAKE-hosted videos to their devices before deployment and watch them in the field as needed. That puts on-demand training in the hands of the Marines who need it, wherever their missions might take them.
Following an evaluation by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, MAKE was recognized as a best practice that should be emulated by the other services. That designation resulted in joint talks with the Army about MAKE partnership opportunities. In addition, the Department of Defense Explosive Safety Board and the Navy have agreed to use EES, hinting at an even higher potential return on investment.
“When you start getting positive feedback about how the apps you’re creating are making the warfighter more efficient, safer and able to do their jobs better, and when other services are recognizing what you’re doing and considering jumping on board, that’s a good thing,” said Taylor. “It also speaks to portfolio management, interoperability and trend evaluations that will ultimately lead to process improvements in addition to financial savings. There are real, tangible results when multiple services streamline processes and utilize the same business apps.”
But that’s not a surprise to the MAKE developers. Sharing information across multiple commands and services is what they had in mind all along. Michael Tao, software development branch manager at NSWC Corona, pursued the One Team model in leading the project.
Tao and his group are working on three more applications this year within MAKE. He anticipates migrating the entire suite of applications into the cloud in January 2020. His group is also leading the charge for others to follow suit by publishing white papers on how to prepare a legacy application for the cloud; it’s another example of sharing the wealth and working together for the greater good.
“As technology experts, it is critical that we maximize collaboration, innovate and share our knowledge in such a way that what we do provides greater value to the Navy and DOD,” Tao said.
Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona, headquartered in Norco, California, is the Navy’s premier independent analysis and assessment agent, using measurement, analysis and assessment to enable our warfighters to train, fight and win. The center analyzes warfare and missile defense systems, provides systems engineering for Live Virtual Constructive training ranges, and advises and administratively manages measurement and calibration standards for the Navy and Marine Corps. Capt. Khary Hembree-Bey commands the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) field activity with a workforce of more than 3,700 scientists, engineers, contractors and support staff.