Blog PostsLeading MARCIMS Development

Leading MARCIMS Development

Aptima Leads Development of Intelligent Assistant for US Marine Corps Civil Affairs and Humanitarian Response

MARCIMS helps piece together complex puzzle of chaotic civil environment

In conjunction with the US Marine Corps through an Office of Naval Research contract, Aptima, Inc. led the development of an innovative recommendation capability that will be incorporated into the latest version of MARCIMS to predict the information needs of users.

Marines distributing humanitarian rations

A Marine with Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment hands humanitarian ration at an aid distribution site near a landing zone in Leogane, Haiti, following 2010 earthquake. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bobbie A. Curtis)

In times of conflict and natural disasters across the globe, US Marine Civil Affairs teams are often among the first to respond, helping assist local populations recover from strife and disruption. One of the first steps is assessing the broken landscape and destroyed infrastructure in order to coordinate aid. What roads are gone, what bridges and clinics must be rebuilt, where are food and clean water needed? A once unwieldy time-consuming process of collating information about the civil environment with pen, paper, and binders has been transformed by MARCIMS, the Marine Civil Information Management System.

Used by US Marines Civil Affairs in their assistance efforts around the world, MARCIMS automates a data-heavy process. Once Marines upload photos, videos, and assessments about the status of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, MARCIMS aggregates, analyzes, and curates the wide variety of semi-structured data, which can include geospatial and other data feeds. That information is converted into actionable information in the form of charts, tables, and interactive maps for use by the Civil Affairs community, including coalition partners, government agencies, and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Marine using the mobile app MARCIMS

Marines conducting civil-military operations will have the ability to collect, process, analyze and share information using software from a smartphone. The mobile application, called MARCIMS, was developed by Marine Corps Systems Command and through science and technology funding from the Office of Naval Research. (U.S. Marine Corps photo courtesy

With extraordinary amounts of disparate information, it can be difficult for operators to know what’s available in the system to support them. Similar to the customized choices and shopping experiences on Amazon or Netflix, MARCIMS’ deep machine analytics offer up the most relevant information based on the user’s project, mission, or interests. By making sense of the data, the recommendation engine provides users with persistent, long-term knowledge about the operational environment, such as the problems a village faced in the past, the work that was performed, and the leaders engaged with, so Civil Affairs teams aren’t starting from scratch. For instance, while a local hospital may be intact after a typhoon, the recommendation engine might discover and offer updates about impassable roads that are cutting off its access, enhancing Marines’ and others’ situational awareness and ability to respond.

Marines using MARCIMS

Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) developed MARCIMS to allow Marine civil affair teams to collect and upload information on the availability of medical, water, sewer or other facilities needed to execute relief or other civil operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Wil Williams)

While many think of US Marines only as Warfighters, their Civil Affairs efforts play an essential role in support and stability operations in times of need. Tools like MARCIMS are a force multiplier, integrating complex data and user requirements to efficiently and quickly stand-up and conduct robust Civil Affairs.“The data environment can be just as disordered as the real world one,” said Laura Cassani, Project Lead for Aptima. “The challenge is how to convert overwhelming amounts of data into actionable information so users can quickly make sense of a chaotic civil environment.”

MARCIMS was most recently utilized in a large multinational military exercise held annually in east Asia. The system was also used during a multinational exercise for training military and civilian resources for use in preventing and handling crisis and conflicts.

More info on MARCIMS can be found at

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Aptima’s participation in MARCIMS’ development has been funded through the Marine Corps Systems Command and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), whom the author wishes to thank (ONR Contract N00014-16-C-1039) The author also thanks the MARCIMS Program Office for their support in these ongoing efforts.

DISTRIBUTION A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited (ONR Docket Number 43-5353-19).