Thanks to a recent contest, Marines may be adding new mobile apps to their already robust weapon kit.
Capt. Christopher Curry has designed a mobile device application that allows Marines to plot data on maps during training exercises and mission rehearsals.
"Someone could be in the field and they could be in fighting positions and they could be setting up their lanes of fire," Curry told Marine Corps Times. "They could easily draw up their lanes of fire on the app. They could send it out to anyone in their squad or platoon. They could also give range and bearing – max ranges – for weapons systems."
Curry, of the 3rd Marine Division, is one of the winners of the first-ever Marine Corps Mobile Application Challenge, which sought ideas for iPhone and Android apps in three categories: warfighting, physical fitness and quality of life.
Capt Christopher Curry designed this mobile application, which allows Marines to share maps while training.
Selected as the winner in the warfighting category, Curry's app could also be used to help Marines training to call in close air support, said Curry, a former Harrier pilot who started coding in high school and went on to earn a master's degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.
"They are able to zoom in extremely close to a center point on the grid, get out the 10-digit grid and also use the range and bearing function to see if they're in danger close of any of the weapons systems," he said.
Before it could be used in actual combat, the app and the device on which it is used would need to meet stringent security requirements, so Curry believes his app is more suited for training, he said.
"There would be pretty rigorous processes to ensure that the application would be secure enough to go downrange with," Curry said.
The Marine Corps is identifying which of the apps submitted for the contest have the most potential to be further developed, said Col. Kyle Dewar, an enterprise data center technologist for the Marine Corps.
Although the competition does not include a monetary prize, the winners receive other forms of recognition.
"All participants receive letters recognizing their participation and thanking them for their efforts," Dewar said. "Commands are encouraged to complement these letters with appropriate recognition on proficiency or conduct markings, fitness reports or formal awards."
Chief warrant officer 2 Jeffrey Dovan's app won in the physical fitness category. It calculates scores on the physical and combat fitness tests using the new standards that take effect in January.
"I know for myself and for my Marines, when we go out there, they want to know what their score is right away," said Dovan, of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. "They don't want to wait to get back to the office and try to figure out what their score is. So, a lot of times, even with the CFT, they'd have the big charts out there and then you'd have to go over to the chart, look up what your times were and then from there you'd calculate it in your head.
Chief warrant officer 2 Jeffrey Dovan designed a mobile application to help Marines calculate their physical and combat fitness test scores as well as their body fat composition.
"Whereas this right here, it just gives you a one-stop shop. You can put in your information, get it right there and then you don't have to wait for it."
The Marine Corps already has an app to calculate PFT and CFT scores, but the Corps' Training and Education Command plans to talk to Dovan in 2017 about how to develop his app, said TECOM spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena.
In the quality of life category, a team of Marines and spouses from Marine Air Control Group 18 won for its app that helps Marines find things to do on Okinawa other than drinking.
"Right now we have it broken down by four groups: We have play, eat, visit and shop," said Sgt. Jonathan Kelly. "Pretty much each section has a few examples that we can add in there, like stores to go see. We put some beaches on there, dive spots and some restaurants."
Marines have a problem finding places to eat, shop and have fun when they arrive on Okinawa, said Master Sgt. Brantley Friend.
"If you use Google, you have to know exactly what you're looking for before you can type it in," Friend said. "So if you don't read Japanese, you're kind of lost on the island."
Without knowing where else to go, Marines tend to gravitate toward Okinawa's bars, said Cpl. William Mclean.
"The bar culture is very big … and that's what leads to a lot of the incidents that occur on Okinawa, which can get everyone in trouble," Mclean said. "What we're trying to do is bring alternatives to drinking – better alternatives and more productive alternatives and not dangerous alternatives – to the bar life."