Annie Gammell / Army
Sgt. Willie LeBeouf, assigned to the 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Army Evaluation Task Force, selects a local map to display on a smart phone. The phone was loaded with a special application to help soldiers interview local residents during a battle scenario as part of an exercise.
Smart phones are about to be standard issue gear for Army troops.
Service men and women will be given the option of an Apple iPhone or Google Android. Once the devices are in their hands, they will be a ouch away from everything from airstrike apps to the latest Taliban positioning to Facebook posts from the battle line.
The program started small -- soldiers at three U.S.-based army bases received smart phones last summer, part of a pilot program called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications. Now the Army plans to test the program in war zones. Eventually, officials envision every soldier having one.
The goal is to get soldiers the information they need instantly no matter their location, the Army Times reported.
"What we’re doing is fundamentally changing how soldiers access knowledge, information, training content and operational data," Mike McCarthy, director of the mission command complex of Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, told the Times. "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 smart phone technologies to lead this."
The Times explains the idea this way:
At war, smart phones would let soldiers view real-time intelligence and video from unmanned systems overhead, and track friends and enemies on a dynamic map, officials said. But the Army must first work through the complex task of securing the data and the network before it sanctions smart phones on the battlefield.
Smart phones are just one of the technologies the Army is considering issuing in war zones. They are also looking at iPads, Kindles and Nook readers. Anything to help the U.S. troops stay ahead of the enemy.