I have never had the privilege to serve our country in the military, but many of my relatives have. My brother-in-law is a former Marine, and he has conveyed many stories about his travels around the globe. In these discussions I have heard about all sorts of cool military gear, but never once did he tell me about a military issued smartphone.
The U.S. Military personnel will soon be issued more than uniforms, helmets and firearms; in the near future they will also be receiving smartphones to carry into battle. The delicate nature of smartphones, with their large glass screens and somewhat delicate bodies don’t seem ideal for the battlefield, but many vendors are looking to to make modifications to meet the needs of the military. It’s unclear if these modifications will be implemented on consumer models as well, or if they will be specifically designed for the military.
According to the Army Times, the U.S. Army is targeting Feb. to roll out smartphones along with special networks and other applications. They are also planning on deploying wireless Common Access Card readers for the iPhone and Android phones in the hopes to give soldiers secure access to their email, contacts and calendars.
Now many people may ask, “What the heck are soldiers going to do with smartphones in the battlefield?”. Well, in war zones, smartphones would allow military personnel to view real-time intelligence and video surveillance from distant systems, as well as have the ability to track both allies and enemies on vital strategic maps. In tests that have been performed by the Pentagon, soldiers that are equipped with smartphones share more intelligence than those who do not. This intelligence, in the form of pictures and text messages are of intelligence found on patrol and sent back to the command center.
A major concern of high level military personnel is wireless security. Data transferred in war zones will largely determine if a mission is successful, and in essence comes down to life and death. The enemy could easily knock out a cell tower and cripple operations so the Army is looking into ways to implement a mesh network where each soldier would have the potential to be their own base station. There are many technical specifications that the military is looking into before implementing this technology and the Pentagon is keeping many details classified.
As smartphones become more powerful many organizations that we don’t expect to sport these devices will find ways to integrate them into day to day operations. I wonder how long it will be before we hear stories about an Android device or iPhone saving lives in a war-zone.
The battlefield is an unlikely place to find smartphones and I’m sure it won’t be the last to raise eyebrows. What other unlikely locations do you think we will see this technology implemented? Space Maybe? Let me know in the comments below.