Aberdeen, MD — JARVIS may ring a bell. The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t the only one with “Just a Rather Very Intelligent System” supporting society’s heroes.
Though a different acronym, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Data & Analysis Center, known as DEVCOM DAC, developed the Joint Analysis Repository and Visual Interface System, dubbed JARVIS, an authoritative central repository tool for data. JARVIS allows for more efficient tri-service review and approval for the greater Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Munitions Effectiveness, or JTCG/ME.
“What JARVIS allows us to do is streamline the approval process that feeds accurate data to the warfighter,” Timothy Potter said, who currently leads the development of JARVIS and has worked with JTCG/ME for over twelve years. “Nothing happens without data. It starts here.”
Before JARVIS, data review was performed through email exchanges, file shares and suffix-naming of files — making coordination, consolidation and review difficult. Tracking approvals was based on personal knowledge, and reviewer comments could easily be lost in the shuffle. Now, data is stored in a central repository so reviewers are able to view the file, view edits and check the box for approval. It’s neat, consistent and more effective for synchronous and asynchronous revisions.
“Having all that information in one place [in JARVIS], you get the one-stop-shop of data that is searchable and version-tracked,” Scott Johnson, lead developer on Potter’s team, said. “Everyone is operating on common ground.”
To see where JARVIS fits in, it’s important to understand the processes and purpose of JTCG/ME. DAC serves as the executive agent on behalf of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, or DOT&E, Live Fire Test and Evaluation, or LFT&E, which sponsors the JTCG/ME mission. The program was chartered more than 50 years ago to serve as the Department of Defense’s focal point for credible and standard tri-service munitions effectiveness data and models for acquisition and operations. Today, agencies across the Joint and interagency community collaborate to execute portions of the work.
JTCG/ME implements Joint-approved data and models via operational software tools called Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manuals. These tools are used by warfighters for day-to-day weaponeering and collateral damage estimation decisions in direct support of operations, mission planning and training. According to the JTCG/ME director at DAC, “JARVIS is a critical enabler for feeding credible and consistent data to operational tools used daily by the warfighter.”
JTCG/ME’s Capabilities and Standardization Integrated Product Team, dubbed C&S IPT, primarily functions to support development of all data and methodologies, as well as the architecture in which data is stored to enable JTCG/ME product development. All data associated with weapons and targets is developed and approved by the C&S IPT.
JARVIS is the C&S IPT’s data solution. Currently, JARVIS feeds the Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manuals Weaponeering System, or JWS, which allows operational users to determine effects of air-to-surface and surface-to surface weapons against materiel, personnel and structural targets. Since everything in JWS must be tri-service approved, JARVIS is the online product to enable better target-and weapon-related capability standardization. The latest version of JWS was recently released and is now available for download.
In addition to JARVIS, the C&S IPT also develops the Joint Effects Library, or JEL, which is a collection of JTCG/ME-approved methodologies in support of the weaponeering and collateral damage estimation calculations. The development of JARVIS and JEL, and the increased use of agile software development processes, enables greater performance and affordability across the community.
“As JARVIS is the standard repository for data, the JEL is the sibling: the standard repository for methodology,” Potter said. “JARVIS and JEL form two pillars of capabilities and standardization.” The third pillar being people.
The C&S IPT is comprised of subject matter experts from all the services and spans across Air Force Lifecycle Management Center; Air Force Research Laboratory; Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division - China Lake; Naval Surface Warfare Center - Dahlgren and Carderock; and DAC on Aberdeen Proving Ground. These organizations work to maintain program standards, cross-cutting technical processes and expertise in key technical areas. Their collective data science and programming skills, as well as world class expertise on various phenomena, make tools such as JARVIS possible.
“Because we have people scattered across the DOD and across the country, we needed JARVIS to be web-accessible,” said Potter. “We needed people that had database management experience for the back-end and web development experience for the front-end, and to bring both of those pieces together to create the capability we were looking for. Our team has the right mix of that.”
The developers creating JARVIS are resident to DAC, and specific to Potter’s Joint Capabilities and Standardization Team, part of the Warfighter Futures and Integration Division’s Joint Data Branch. Each developer must understand different components of the JTCG/ME mission—be it materiel target vulnerability, personnel vulnerability, weapon characteristics, among many others— effectively enough to develop the support structure and code to facilitate experts to review validated data in a standardized format. “Many of the JARVIS developers are recent graduates. They have this energy, this optimism, for getting in there and solving problems,” Potter said.
DAC is continuing to develop JARVIS for JTCG/ME technical working groups, and is also onboarding a new developer exclusively focused on modifying JARVIS to support Civilian Casualty Reduction initiatives. “This has immediate impact,” Potter said. “We’re directly supporting foreign partners, and we’re doing it smartly.”
The benefits of JARVIS supporting the program? An archival of enormous data sets to support mission planning, quality control review and a structured database to enable machine learning algorithms.
“At the end of the day, we’re doing this for warfighters so they can execute their mission successfully and safely,” Potter said, while leading the C&S IPT kick-off meeting, in which Army, Navy and Air Force representatives met to discuss JARVIS among other technical efforts. “Every member of the C&S IPT understands that importance.”
The DEVCOM Data and Analysis Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. Visit the DEVCOM website at https://www.army.mil/devcom.