The rapid proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers is far-reaching into all facets of the U.S. Army. As technology forges ahead, Soldiers in the battlefield, students in classrooms and now attorneys in military courtrooms are using mobile technologies to support their daily operations.
At the request of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School, Charlottesville, Va., the Learning Innovation Office, or LIO, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, developed and implemented a Manual for Courts-Martial, or MCM, mobile application for use in the military justice system.
MCM is a combined procedure and law manual that is used throughout the armed services, including the Coast Guard. The consolidated book includes rules of evidence, identification of crimes, procedures for courts-martial and reference material.
“It is a commonly referenced item by commanders, law enforcement investigators and judge advocates, but it’s the size of a small phone book so it’s not always readily available,” stated Maj. Sean Mangan, associate professor of Criminal Law at the Judge Advocate General School. “Rather than take the time to properly reference the item, people sometimes make guesses about the law.”
Mangan said the mobile application should not only increase efficiency, but also reduce the kind of error that happens when speculations are made.
The project was a collaborative effort among LIO, the JAG School and Fort Huachuca Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.
According to Mangan, Lt. Col. James Teixeira, the former deputy of the SJA Office, was instrumental in introducing the JAG School to LIO.
“We had a concept at the JAG School, but didn’t have the means to put it into action,” he explained. “Lieutenant Colonel Teixeira had an idea, but no real plan of how to put it together.”
After the two organizations linked up, Mangan sent over concept briefs, designs and layouts to Teixeira, who acted as a liaison between the JAG School and LIO.
“It was an opportunity for the Learning Innovation Office to support the Big Army and work a different piece of development,” stated Crawford Scott, LIO development lead.
Michelle Austin, LIO project manager, said the customer requested a mobile application of the MCM for the Google Android and Apple iOS platforms.
“Although we did not receive the 2012 version [of the MCM] until late March, our organization was able to start researching, in advance, the Web-based languages for the conversion process,” Austin said.
Tyler Nelson, LIO software engineer and lead developer on the project, said it’s typically necessary to use different programming languages for each mobile platform.
Mangan said he used a concept slide to send LIO a graphic breakout of what he wanted the product to look like and how it should function. “It was amazing to see how LIO could turn around and execute exactly what I was looking for.”
A diverse group of planned users, Mangan said the first to breach use of the new mobile application will be trial counsel, trial defense counsel, military justice managers and all JAG types.
“We will also eventually integrate the mobile application into training at the JAG School,” he said.
Once review requirements were met, LIO deployed the application to the iTunes and Android marketplaces.
“It gave us our first foray into native application development for both Android and iOS,” Scott said. “The framework built for MCM can be reused for future mobile projects at LIO.”
To ensure the MCM stays up-to-date, the organization will work with the JAG School to incorporate updates as laws change.
Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, presented LIO with the TRADOC Collaboration Award for its work on the MCM project.
“I am very proud of the organization,” stated LIO Director Leanne Rutherford. “I think it just proves what can be accomplished when everyone comes together in a cooperative spirit to work on a highly collaborative project.”
In addition to Scott, Austin and Nelson, the MCM project team includes Scott Haury, visual information specialist and Ashley Allen, technical editor-writer.
For more information on the MCM project, contact Austin, 533.7140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.