By Claire Schwerin, PEO C3TOctober 3, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- A breakthrough multimedia reporting system for troops patrolling in Afghanistan and Iraq has officially joined the Army's portfolio.
The Tactical Ground Reporting tool, known as TIGR, was created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in response to Soldiers' needs to digitally capture, report and retrieve patrol data such as common incidents, residents and leaders of a village. TIGR transitioned from DARPA program management to the Army's Project Manager Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below (PM FBCB2) on Oct. 1.
"TIGR is a remarkable tool that DARPA was able to get out to deployed units quickly, and rapidly develop it in line with what the Soldiers needed on the ground for their counterinsurgency missions," said Col. Thomas Olson, project manager for FBCB2, which is assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). "The Army looks forward to building upon this work, by integrating what Soldiers like best about TIGR into our next-generation FBCB2 systems."
The transition comes as the original TIGR application is growing more versatile, with versions for handheld devices, vehicles and command posts heavily involved in the semi-annual Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) events, which have the mission to rapidly advance the Army's tactical network.
With approximately 52,000 TIGR accounts in existence in Afghanistan, Iraq and training facilities inside the United States, the transition will be seamless for users, said retired Lt. Col. John Gillette, PM FBCB2 lead for TIGR. TIGR help desk services have already been moved into the PM FBCB2 Network Operations Center.
"Our desire is that to the Soldier in the field, there's really zero lapse in service," Gillette said. "To them it should be transparent."
The web-based TIGR empowers Soldiers to collect, share and analyze information using a Google Earth-like interface, pictures and text. Units can post and archive route reports, so other units headed to the same place can review and learn from their actions. Soldiers can digitally circle the door of a targeted building and send the photo to their counterparts before they execute their mission.
During the June-July NIE 11.2 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and Fort Bliss, Texas, 2nd Lt. Nick Stortini used TIGR to enter a wide range of data related to his patrols, such as pictures and clothing descriptions of potential high-value targets. This data was available across the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD), which executed several counterinsurgency mission scenarios and other vignettes as part of the first NIE.
"The TIGR system is great for our level (the company)," Stortini said. "It's quick and I can post pictures and video."
Capt. Scott DeWitt, a company commander with 2/1 AD, said TIGR gives Soldiers a central place to collect and understand various pieces of information in the context of their overall mission. Sharing that information was much more difficult without a digital repository, he said.
"Information is only relevant if you can actually turn it into something visual, or be able to define or describe it," DeWitt said.
While TIGR is not considered a formal system under test or system under evaluation at the NIEs, it is used extensively as an enabler for small unit operations.
At the upcoming NIE 12.1 in November, for example, Soldiers will be able to access TIGR updates while on the move -- a first for TIGR in an operational environment. Relying on the increased bandwidth of Warfighter Information Network - Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, which brings a major upgrade for the Army's network backbone, small units will be able to connect to the same TIGR information in their vehicles that is available to leaders back at the command post.
"Say an individual is out on a mission and gets a retasking for that mission," Gillette said. "He's able to search for the new location, pull up the planning from the other platoon leader, look at pictures, graphics and a safe route to that location. He can then input any data that's happening while they're at the new location, and have the information show up in the TIGR database for other users across the brigade."
A disconnected version of TIGR will also be used inside vehicles that do not have WIN-T Increment 2 equipment installed. For those users, TIGR will work in combination with Joint Capabilities Release (JCR), the next-generation software for FBCB2 that relies on the Blue Force Tracking 2 satellite network for much faster communications between Soldiers.
TIGR software will also be part of NIE 12.1 as an "app" on handheld devices for Soldiers who dismount from their vehicles but need to remain in communication with higher headquarters. For example, a Soldier capturing a targeted individual inside a village can snap the person's picture and immediately disseminate the image across the network. Back at battalion headquarters, leaders can match the photo to the image of the target in their existing TIGR database, and instruct the ground troops to proceed with the arrest.
The TIGR app will run on devices known as Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) handhelds, a component of the JBC-P program that is the follow-on program of record for FBCB2. Under PEO C3T management, TIGR will be fully integrated into the JBC-P family of systems.
Soldiers' positive feedback on TIGR strongly influenced the development of a new, more modern user interface for JBC-P, Gillette said. JBC-P users will drag-and-drop icons, touch-to-zoom maps, collaborate through group chat and analyze the battlefield on a single screen.
Developed by DARPA in response to Soldier feedback from Iraq and Afghanistan, TIGR was first introduced to users during a pre-deployment training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, in the spring of 2006. Following TIGR's success in training and in theater, a Memorandum of Agreement was drafted to transfer the system to PM FBCB2 in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2012.
"Over the past few years, as DARPA prepared to hand off the capability to the Army, we've been able to learn from DARPA's methods to improve our responsiveness and support to the Soldier, while also being more agile with system development than we have in the past," Gillette said. "We're excited about continuing that pace, and to see TIGR grow even more."
Other short term plans for TIGR include deploying the capability to the Philippines and the Horn of Africa, as well as consolidating it into the Battle Command Common Services server infrastructure for greater efficiencies.