At ease: Army salutes tech, modernizing with smartphones

Dec 15, 2010
Tech

An army marches on more than its stomach. It also will march on data and apps. Along these lines, U.S. Army soldiers soon will not only be issued uniforms and weapons, but their choice of iPhones from Apple (AAPL), Androids from Google (GOOG) or other devices, such as mini-projectors and e-book readers. Army Times reports […]

An army marches on more than its stomach. It also will march on data and apps.

Along these lines, U.S. Army soldiers soon will not only be issued uniforms and weapons, but their choice of iPhones from Apple (AAPL), Androids from Google (GOOG) or other devices, such as mini-projectors and e-book readers.

Army Times reports that in February, the Army will begin fielding smartphones and other gear to the first Army brigade to be modernized.

Mike McCarthy, director of the mission command complex of Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, told the newspaper: “What we’re doing is fundamentally changing how soldiers access knowledge, information, training content and operational data. 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.”

The goal is to provide soldiers with useful data when they need it: email, contacts and calendars, as well as real-time intelligence and the ability to track friend or foe on dynamic maps.

The military faces a challenge in securing data and networks before it allows use of smartphones on the battlefield. “We had to prove that we could make the electrons flow from one end to the other successfully,” McCarthy said. “We took a little bit of license in not going over classified networks. Once it works, we can start working on the information assurance piece.”

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The Army not only will provide smartphones, but will pay charges for minutes from a “maintenance fee.”

Apple Insider reports that earlier this year, Army officials visited Apple’s campus in Cupertino, CA, to review its new products. Back in 2008, the military began using specially equipped iPods for translation in Iraq, offering tech in smaller sizes and lower costs than in the past.

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Howard Wolinsky

Howard Wolinsky is a Chicago freelance writer specializing in health and tech topics. He covered those beats for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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