TECHNOLOGY: The Army and Smartphones

Robert Bee
Robert Bee's picture

USA Today has an interesting article detailing how the army is starting a new program to give smartphones to soldiers, either an iPhone or an Android and paying the monthly phone bill (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2010-12-13-army-smartphones_N.htm).

Ah, but these soldiers are not getting these phones to watch porn on the tinny screen or check their Facebook status; this smartphone would be a piece of equipment a soldier receives just like a gun or ammo. “Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications” is already underway in several army schools and posts and is now being tested for the war zone.

The army will also examine whether other technological devices such as Nooks, Kindles, and iPads would be useful for troops.

The smartphones would give the soldiers access to calendars, email, and contacts as well as real-time information and maps on the battlefield, even allowing them to keep track of troop movements.

Soldiers would be given a set amount of money for apps and for personalizing their phones based on what they need to get their jobs done. They could put training manuals and maps on the phones. When troops leave their vehicle, they lose their ability to easily communicate with one another, a problem cell phones could alleviate. Other possible uses are endless: troops could send photos of injuries to base for advice on first aid, or text tactical information to one another for real time adjustment of tactics.

One problem with cell phones on the battlefield is getting a signal. Since the battlefield might not have Verizon, the troops would probably bring small towers on a Humvee. Another big problem the Army is trying to solve is security. Cell phone calls and signals are easy to intercept, which cause important information to be hacked by the enemy. In Iraqi Militants have used a $26 software to intercept Predator drone feeds and possibly evade air strikes (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html).

Robert Bee is a freelance writer from New Jersey, who works in a library as a day job. His closets are full of moldering pulp science fiction magazines, and he's been trying to write a novel.

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