U.S. Army Equipping Every Soldier with a Smartphone
Smartphones – essentially small computers that can make phone calls – have taken the cell phone market by storm, and now the United States military is getting in on the action.
The initiative is part of a force modernization scheme under way across the armed forces. [Read: Air Force Invests in 'Batman' Technologies for Special Forces Soldiers ]
A soldier might be able to take his or her pick of smartphone and have Uncle Sam pick up the monthly bill, as well as pay for apps.
The Army already has teams that crank out custom apps for training and fighting, the article reports. The apps show soldiers how to do a perfect push-up, say, or allow them to effortlessly tote electronic versions of hefty explosive ordnance disposal manuals.
The Army is not looking to significantly alter the phones it purchases – after all, modifications would eat into the cost-effectiveness of buying civilian wares in bulk – but it does plan to "ruggedize" the devices.
There are several significant challenges, including security for smartphones and their networks should they fall into enemy hands, as well as making sure the handsets remain free of viruses and safe from cyber attack-style hacking. [Read: Military Bans USB Drives, Should You? ]
The Army, recognizing this, is considering making a special secure "app store" of its own to supply apps securely, for example.
Smartphones are not the only gadget that soldiers might soon have on hand.
"We’re looking at everything from iPads to Kindles to Nook readers to mini-projectors," Mike McCarthy told the Army Times. McCarthy is director of the mission command complex of Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, where war zone testing has begun.
Soldiers in the field someday should be able to access and view real-time intelligence piped in from unmanned aerial vehicles flying overhead, as well as inform their fellow troopers and commanders about enemy and weapon cache locations, for starters.
As the Army Times article says, "the goal is for soldiers to get information when they need it, wherever they are."
"What we’re doing is fundamentally changing how soldiers access knowledge, information, training content and operational data," McCarthy said. "The day you sign on to be a soldier, you will be accessing information and knowledge in garrison and in an operational environment in a seamless manner. We’re using smartphone technologies to lead this."