“No – you can’t have a white one!”

U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division recently took part in a field exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in which they experimented with a tool not normally used by the armed forces – a smartphone. And no, they weren’t playing Farmville. Instead, they were using custom phones running custom apps, to coordinate the swarming of a mock village and the capture of a high-value target. Judging by how the exercise went, smartphones could soon be showing up on battlefields everywhere.

The phones were ruggedized Android-based prototypes developed specifically for the project. They were plugged into the soldiers’ tactical radios, combining the capabilities of both technologies. Running on the phones were two apps – Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P Handheld, and Tactical Ground Reporting, or TIGR Mobile.

JBC-P displays a map of the battlefield, using GPS to indicate the locations of friendly forces, enemies, and landscape hazards in real time. TIGR allows soldiers to send photos back and forth, and swap historical information relevant to the operation…

Given that troops presumably wouldn’t want to be thwarted by coverage limitations, the phones communicated using the WIN-T secure terrestrial network provided by the soldiers’ HMS Manpack and Rifleman radios. The network allowed troops to share information with one another in the field, and with the battalion tactical operations center. WIN-T also links up to a secure satellite connection, to keep the higher-ups at headquarters in the loop.

We can all be confident that no one else in the world can match our tech know-how – and hack into battlefield cellphones and use the information against our troops.

Uh, right?




  1. Glenn E. says:

    This is another example of a PR and recruitment gimmick. Promising poorer kids that they’ll get their own smartphone, when they enlist. And other, more well off types, that they won’t be technologically cut-off from the modern world, when they’re in a war zone. Of course, these so-called Smartphones won’t be able to call outside of the military’s own wireless network. So soldiers won’t be calling home, unless Command allows them to. And monitors and censors every thing they say.

    I’m sure they’ll work in a few features, like GPS and field communications. Just to make it seem a practical tool. But it’s really more about PR for the newer recruits, who might be missing their tech fix. Because everything else, not approved for field use, the military confiscates. And these snartphones probably WON’T have built-in cameras.

  2. Glenn E. says:

    Your tax dollars at work. helping the CTIA members become exploiters of war. War profiteers. As if they aren’t already making enough billions from public sales. Now some half-assed “smartphone” will be bought by the US Army, and probably triple the civilian price. Assuming the public would even want it!

    I wonder which politicians the CTIA had to wine and dine, to get this on the military’s budget? Or did they just go directly to some overpaid Generals? And offer them a vice-Pres position, following their military careers?

  3. Milidroid says:

    Wow the ignorance in this comment thread is amazing. Most are applying a civilian mindset or how they use their smartphone to how it will be used on the battlefield.

    Don’t you think that the weaknesses are pretty apparent and solutions will need to be in place prior to fielding?

    For example the complaint of carrying an extra piece of equipment, well for one if the device has a built in GPS, right off the bat you are making a substitution and getting something that more than likely weighs less and provides more capability.