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US Army Considers a Smartphone For Every Soldier

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.

Cellphones 279

destinyland writes "The US Army is seriously considering the idea of issuing a smartphone to every soldier, and they're already modernizing one Texas brigade 'through a range of electronic devices that will include not just smartphones but tablet devices, e-reader and mini-projectors.' The company that developed Patriot missiles has already created several dedicated military apps for both iPhone and Android phones, including one that allows soldiers to track colleague's locations on the battlefield. Interestingly, the army is likely to use an off-the-shelf model, heightening the war between Apple and Android phones. Apple's non-replaceable batteries may become an issue in the field, since 'plugging the phone in to recharge isn't always a viable option in the middle of combat.'"

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Not now Mom (5, Funny)

Cidtek (632990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611190)

I gotta get back to ya later Mom - I'm kinda engaged right now.

Re:Not now Mom (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611330)

That's the conscientious one. The regular guy will be like "Gotta get back to you later, sir, I am updating my status now".

But actually you should not read too much into it. This is just another money grab from the military -- they, and their contractor friends must be getting hungry on the lean offerings of Obama's budget.

Joke right? (4, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611458)

I gotta get back to ya later Mom - I'm kinda engaged right now.

What if I told you me and 10+ other guys saw 'AFK: Real War' from an actual soldier in Afghanistan playing a war simulation at that time?

(not naming any names including game)

SMS reply: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611478)

IFF, TL;DR

(IFF is now In Fire Fight :)

ya were located at ..... (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611554)

increased security ...job one

Re:Not now Mom (5, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611778)

Yea, funny mental picture, but I remember as far back as 1999 getting a call on my cell from a friend while in the middle of combat training. Apparently she was freaking out for the next day or two because she heard gunfire and explosions in the background, with me saying "kinda busy, call ya back".

This is my iPhone. (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611894)

There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My iPhone is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my iPhone is useless. Without my iPhone, I am useless. I must text my iPhone true. I must text faster than my mother, who is trying to block me. I must text my friends before she grounds me. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my iPhone and myself are defenders of my social life, we are the masters of our parents, we are the saviors of my social life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.

I didn't intend that to be that creepy when I started it, but I think that describes 90% of high school and college students I've interacted with.

Re:Not now Mom (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611936)

That's gotta give a whole new meaning to NO CARRIER jok^NO CARRIER.

Probably necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611194)

with all the hooking up that is going to be happening now!! Enjoy!!! Enjoy!!! OOOOOO!

Didn't they just ban (5, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611208)

Didn't they just ban all portable mass storage devices as security risks? I mean what do they think these smart phones are?

Re:Didn't they just ban (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611274)

Didn't they just ban all portable mass storage devices as security risks? I mean what do they think these smart phones are?

I don't think it being a "portable mass storage device" will be a problem since it won't be able to connect to their machines. Though handing every solder a small, portable video/photo camera with instant upload capabilities might not be a smart idea...

Re:Didn't they just ban (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611624)

You do realise most phones these days can be connected as mass storage via USB? Then there's WLAN, Bluetooth, IrDA, Screen codes, Accustic coupling.... there are literally thousands of ways to get big amounts of data out of an Computer with a Smartphone.

Re:Didn't they just ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611344)

Didn't they just ban all portable mass storage devices as security risks? I mean what do they think these smart phones are?

Horribly crippled without the ability to collect or retain evidence.

Re:Didn't they just ban (5, Insightful)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611558)

I mean what do they think these smart phones are?

Another method of turning taxpayer money into corporate profit

Re:Didn't they just ban (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611710)

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Re:Didn't they just ban (2)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611908)

Of course when it comes to control freaks no one can match military officers, no matter how incompetent they are at it. Smartphones for every soldier so;

24/7 monitoring of location
The military own the phone and the service person so random activation recording and computer analysis of the phones microphone
Always on call no refusal

So the military is the ideal place to test digital enslavement of the populace, next parolees, then the general populace for any misdemeanour activity like not being rich or being a member of the wrong political party.

So overall really rather off, as there is no real battle field application as they are tied to a public frequency so jamming is to be expected if they were actually used.

Re:Didn't they just ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611952)

I would be interested to subscribe to your newsletter about government initiatives that do not lead to the general enslavement of the populace.

Re:Didn't they just ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611958)

Yeah... because staying connected in a battle field is *ONLY* about corporate profit. Yeah... that's exactly what this is all about.

God forbid our soldiers, airmen and Marines have reliable mechanisms to stay in contact out in the field. No. Stop that in its track because *SOMEONE* somewhere might profit.

We can't have that now.

This doesn't sound like a good idea (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611218)

I haven't seen much consumer electronics equipment that could survive a combat environment. Seems like just the sand alone in Iraq would mess up a lot of devices pretty quick.

And that's the thing -- it's all well and good to say that a certain piece of equipment will give soldiers some kind of advantage, but after a while the "advantage" becomes the norm. What happens then, when a piece of equipment that a soldier has come to rely upon just stops working? Do they carry on like before they had the equipment, or does what was once an advantage become a disadvantage, as the soldiers have to essentially retrain themselves on the fly?

Batteries, cracked screens, fouled-up input devices, software bugs... there's a reason why equipment designed for the military costs so much more than consumer equipment..

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611334)

I doubt this is intended for the battlefield. Remember,soldiers spend 99.999% of their time not in combat, doing training or planning or arranging to get from point a to point b or whatever. The smarphones would probably fill a similar role as they do in any modern corporation, having little direct involvement in actual combat operations for the foreseeable future.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (3, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611394)

I was thinking that as well, then I read -

"including one that allows soldiers to track colleague's locations on the battlefield" and "isn't always a viable option in the middle of combat". So I'm actually wondering what they're going to be doing with them. It'd be rather sensless to take smartphones with you to get mud, sand, shrapnel and whatever on them. And when are you supposed to use them? "Yeah I'm pinned down. Let me take a picture of the guy shooting at us, maybe we'll see him again later"

  If its just for stuff like wanting to find out whether your friend's in the mess hall or taking a nap or whatever would be fine. But then why do the batteries matter?

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611424)

Well some uses could be GPS and texting.

Text: Pinned down by gun fire, IED took out our vehicle, wounded 3 men. Attached photo of the wounds. Need medical for the pictured injuries. Shots appear to be coming from the SW of my GPS location.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611432)

Wouldn't/Shouldn't they rather use military-grade equipment for that? Like a radio? Are they not equipped with this sort of thing already? Stuff that can survive being dropped in mud, stepped on and get singed by an IED?

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611688)

I agree that they're dumb, but playing devil's advocate: these devices are effectively multipurpose tools that come with a lot of hardware that could be purposed flexibly. Anything the phone can do, I suspect they already have: GPS, compass, radio, camera, etc...but suppose you now want your GPS device to be able to keep "bookmarks"? To triangulate a fire position from mulitple units? I don't know shit about military actions but I can see the value in a rapidly repurposable portable general computer. Plus office use.

My main concerns are security, dependence, cost, and durability. Mostly the last one. Grad school isn't exactly a combat zone but my electronics still take a beating in day-to-day use.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611916)

There is probably a real military use to a smartphone. But to a real military smartphone. One that has default encryption on, that has a "total emission silence" mode, that has a standard battery slot that can be used on many equipments, that resist shocks, power surges, that work well in area with bad coverage, that boots really quickly, that has shortcuts for urgence situation, that has a LOUD mode that can be heard inside an armored transport.

I am curious why the army didn't develop their own smartphone. Probably hardened and weighting three time an iPhone, and probably with a funky acronym as a name.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611998)

I am curious why the army didn't develop their own smartphone. Probably hardened and weighting three time an iPhone, and probably with a funky acronym as a name.

You forgot the part where each one costs $45,000 and is really just a hardened Atari Portfolio with WiFi.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611962)

They do take a lot of beating. Having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I would say off the shelf devices do not work well in a combat environment. Designs need to be more rugged and waterproofed.
I will say that in Iraq we used 2 systems, the MTS (Movement Tracking System) and the BFT (Blue Force Tracker). The systems were not cross compatible, which caused huge issues in that all the forces on the road in Iraq could only see units with the same system.
Each system would operate with GPS satellites, as well as a proprietary system of communication satellites. You could track the movement of other units, as well as send messages very similar to SMS.
One problem with these units, besides the obvious incompatibility between the two systems, was the bulk. Instead of a handheld, you were dealing with a laptop type device mounted in a vehicle. In addition, when I used the systems they were very counter intuitive, requiring many steps to operate. They also had serious connectivity issues and consequentially the location of another unit would not refresh for minutes at a time, which made it relatively useless when running a convoy, since you could not see where your trucks were in real time.

I think the smartphone idea is a good one. They do, of course, need to get a phone built that is at the very least sealed to protect from water and dust. Shouldn't be too hard considering some of the waterproof and shock resistant cameras on the market.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611516)

Nice theory - but I've seen a lot of cell phone photos, and I wouldn't want any diagnosis of my injuries to be made based on those blurry things. Plus what, exactly, is a cell phone photo going to tell you that "sucking chest wound from a bullet" isn't?

(To potential responders) BTW the purported resolution of the sensor in these phones is basically irrelevant to the discussion. My 7-year-old 3MP Canon point-and-shoot took significantly clearer, higher-effective-resolution photos than any cell phone photo I've ever seen.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

xenn (148389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611426)

One acronym. GPS

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611472)

I know, but parse out what the army is actually considering, vs. what some company is pushing at them. Here's more of the quote you provided: "The company that developed the Patriot missile system has created several dedicated military apps for both systems, including one that allows soldiers to track colleague's locations on the battlefield."

Defense contractors everwhere are spinning off imaginative "apps" on how these things might be used. I still think the Army's actual implementation (if any) will be much, much less ambitious.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

Ed Peepers (1051144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611584)

Mod parent up, it's true! My corporate laptop sees very little direct involvement in combat operations...

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611750)

"iPhone makes sniping easier" [cnet.com] , "Bullet Flight 1.0.0 – the US$15 iPhone app for snipers" [gizmag.com] ... You'd be surprised just at how many ballistics calculators there are! There are, in fact, tons of places in combat where iPhones already have a foothold. And I'm pretty sure that a good bumper that covers the ports would make it sand-proof, too.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611868)

One of the most successful snipers in history [wikipedia.org] shot with iron sights.

I know EVERY company is trying to make stuff so that skilled labor is no longer needed. (The newest bulldozers and motor graders use joysticks, no more long training on hydraulic levers).

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611994)

I know EVERY company is trying to make stuff so that skilled labor is no longer needed. (The newest bulldozers and motor graders use joysticks, no more long training on hydraulic levers).

There is nothing intrinsically "skilled" about a control system designed in the early 1900's, as opposed to the early 2000's. You do not eliminate the need for skilled labour by changing the user interface...

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611990)

I have seen this first hand and can tell you it IS intended for the battlefield. The devices are almost free from google, think disposable...
check this link.: http://investor.raytheon.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=84193&p=irol-newsArticle_Print&ID=1486557&highlight=

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611672)

I haven't seen much consumer electronics equipment that could survive a combat environment.

I would bet that military personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan are far better equipped when it comes to "consumer electronics" than your average Slashdot user.

They've got so many laptops, tablets, game consoles and handheld gaming systems, portable DVD players, digital cameras, iPads etc that I'm surprised there's any time left for gay sex or torture. Seriously, a family member in Kandahar is always after me to send him cracked PC and console games. And yes, they've got modded consoles in Kandahar. (Hey Zipper, I know you're reading this! I'm banging your wife right now! Keep your head down, junior. The girls send their love.)

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611722)

There's one consumer device that can survive combat: The original Game Boy. That beast could probably be used for armor plating tanks.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611748)

No military equipment costs so much because of a few factors, Reason #1, the government is too stupid to get a good deal on anything. The idea that competitive bidding gets you anywhere is a scam. Second the maker is only going to make around a few hundred thousand of whatever. Why waste resources selling to an army of 500,000 vs the 50 million customers in the US and beyond.

I'm sure they approached Steve Jobs about this, and he probably blew them off for selling iPhones to Verizon Wireless customers.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611878)

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from the United States already take alot of consumer level electronics into combat.

Somewhere I have a PDF from June of 2003 from the USMC that talks about all the non-standard stuff Marines brought with them and how effective they were and which of those the Marines should issue.

It talks about things like civilian walkie-talkies that have a push to send GPS coordinates, digital cameras all the way down to camping food and better Camel Bak water bags.

Cover an iPhone or Android in a Zagg Invisibleshield and a case and it'll be fine in Iraq or Afghanistan with the dust.

Upload to Wikileaks (5, Funny)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611238)

Upload to Wikileaks, is there an app for that?

not on the main app store (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611298)

not on the main app store.

Re:not on the main app store (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611430)

That is the plan... Control the phones of the soldiers so that they can detect when a soldier leaks.

Re:Upload to Wikileaks (1)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611654)

Speaking of wikileaks, I can't help but recall that article where the Air Force banned access [slashdot.org] to the media sites containing the wikileaks documents. Why is one branch of the military blocking access to the sites, yet they're contemplating giving a smart phone to everyone in the US army? I'm sure that if this falls through, the smart phones will be locked down to some extent, but they certainly won't be able to block every mirror that springs up.

Re:Upload to Wikileaks (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611872)

Access gets blocked from dedicated military computers - the general-purpose computers usually don't filter content (last I checked).

And don't ask me what their criteria for blocking sites is, either. It seems to be pretty much random at this point. I haven't used US military computers for a while, but we have the same kinds of .... "issues" in Canada - for instance, I can access www.slashdot.com without a problem, but rss.slashdot.com gets blocked because it's apparently a "trojan/virus site". Also games.slashdot.org gets blocked because it's a "games site".

The reason given for banning wikileaks was that it could "download trojans or viruses onto military systems". Which, to me, seems like complete bullshit based on a smidgen of truth, but that's their story and they're sticking to it. However, the site is still accessible from general-purpose computers, as well as from the networks which provide access to personnel living in the barracks, so at least the restriction are consistent with the excuse. The gist of it seems to be that the military really doesn't give a shit if personnel go looking at wikileaks articles - they just don't want you doing it at work.

Now with Grindr pre-installed! (1)

JustaGiga (193029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611244)

We found Bin Laden, and he's an excellent dancer...

Tough book equivalent (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611266)

Rather than straight out "off the shelf" devices, wouldn't they be better served by something equivalent to a Panasonic Toughbook. Maybe that could be covered by 3rd party cases (with built-in batteries) but an iPhone is something that requires a bit of protection even for everyday use.

General Dynamics GD300 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611362)

You mean like this? "General Dynamics' GD300 is the Pip-Boy that runs Android"

http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/09/general-dynamics-gd300-is-the-pip-boy-that-runs-android/

Windows needed (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611588)

Hope I won't give anyone an heart attack by stating this fact but a lot of military software runs on Windows. It even includes some missiles.

Of course their quality standards could be way more higher than anyone down to the choice of languages (e.g. ADA).

Re:General Dynamics GD300 (1)

IronSight (1925612) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611904)

I'm not in the army anymore, but I still want one of these... Though on a civilian it would probably make me look more like a moron than those guys with bluetooth's in their ears or an ipod nano clipped to my shirt sleeve. This will probably end up on the list of things that would be fun but I won't get (out of embarrasment) along with a night vision system, robotic security cameras, or one of those cool new parrot uavs.

Toughbook is polite (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611668)

Rather than straight out "off the shelf" devices, wouldn't they be better served by something equivalent to a Panasonic Toughbook. Maybe that could be covered by 3rd party cases (with built-in batteries) but an iPhone is something that requires a bit of protection even for everyday use.

Well the military guys choose 'laptops' (!) like these:
http://www.aselsan.com.tr/urun.asp?urun_id=89&lang=en [aselsan.com.tr]
Funny is, it is considered to be 'light'.
BTW these things are sold to NATO members army high level personnel only. Don't try to buy like a friend did :)
While on it, it comes with Windows.

A military MD we know keeps buying these.
http://www.gsmarena.com/ericsson_r310s-200.php [gsmarena.com]
Of course as Ericsson did some AOL thing with Sony, they don't produce anymore. You would be really surprised at some 'package not opened' prices for that old phone. So why he keeps buying? Even that monstrous phone can't stand to field conditions in peace time.

Re:Tough book equivalent (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611784)

Smartphones are built pretty tough actually, and there are tons of wonderful 3rd party cases that can make iPhones pretty indestructible.

I think a charger + case all-in-one would be the best bet, similar to the mophie juice pack air [mophie.com] because swapping batteries out of a phone while on the battlefield doesn't sound like such a hot idea to me. No smartphone has a long enough battery life anyway, so a second battery in a case would probably be best, and maybe the case could have a easily swappable battery. Sure Mophie could make something suitable if you were ordering 100,000+ from them.

They better get a GOOD DATA plan with free roaming (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611290)

They better get a GOOD DATA plan with free roaming or the fees will kill them.
where you can hit 11k for a few hours of web surfing in Canada and Canada rates are much lower then over places.

Re:They better get a GOOD DATA plan with free roam (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611618)

Some of the places they could fight probably are out of range (even if in range, could be a vulnerability, an infiltration mission could be badly screwed because someone called the wrong number, or would be bad of someones position could be triangulated). So or they use satellite signal, or they don't plan use it in the battlefield. Of course, are also good pocket computers with camera, gps and so on, so would love that them add i.e. some augumented reality apps to the current set for all.

Sexting in the fox hole? (1)

srodden (949473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611302)

How many car and pedestrian accidents are caused by people texting while trying to do something else?
Do we really wanna see sexting incidents in the fox hole?

Re:Sexting in the fox hole? (5, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611408)

Don't you just hate it when you're driving down the street, guy is driving a heavy tank while talking to his girlfriend?

Re:Sexting in the fox hole? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611524)

Don't you just hate it when you're driving down the street, guy is driving a heavy tank while talking to his girlfriend?

It's even worse if they're texting.

Re:Sexting in the fox hole? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611756)

It's even worse if they're both talking and texting.

Re:Sexting in the fox hole? (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611988)

well then you know they aren't using Verizon

endless policy debates to follow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611312)

Should texting by fighter jet pilots be banned unconditionally, or only when operated by rookie pilots, at speeds in excess of Mach 1, etc.

brilliant! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611316)

I wonder how much other Chinese electronics it'll be a good idea to use on the battlefield.

User space apps by DARPA. Rootkit by the the PLA.

Can't afford this army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611336)

Why stop there? Lets get each of them a limo and a call girl too. Don't raise taxes to pay for our gold plated military though.

Re:Can't afford this army (1)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611468)

Or how about let's spend money on making our troops armor plated first? Instead of buying them useless bling.

Re:Can't afford this army (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611792)

Bling? The ability to know that the person you're shooting at is friendly? I don't think I'd call that bling, that seems pretty important to me.

Re:Can't afford this army (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611622)

Do you realize how much money we currently spend per solider? We might as well be giving them an extra ration of dental floss for how much this is actually going to add in the grand scheme of things.

Don't undermine the good arguments for cutting military spending by focusing on trivial crap like this.

stop shooting please (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611342)

"Oi, , can you just stop shooting for a bit while I change the battery and reboot my phone?"

Re:stop shooting please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611510)

It'll be more like "we call them and ask 'hello, are you the enemy' and if they say 'yes' we triangulate their cell signal and shoot them".

I can't see this being a good idea on the battle field. There's always at least one wanker in every group who won't leave their phone alone, or set it to silent, or turn it off.

Picture this: you're dug in, it's dark and quiet and next thing $OBNOXIOUS_MESSAGETONE goes off. The enemy are looking roughly in your direction now. Wanker takes out his phone and reads the message (because, like, you know, like, it might be my girlfriend, you know). You're lit up like xmas and the enemy knows where you are. Congratulations, you're now much more likely to be dead.

That, and in the jungle there's an over abundance of free electrical outlets to plug in your power hungry smartphone.

motorola (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611354)

If im not mistaken motorola has/had a few phones that could stand drop and shock to some mil spec. If they could put a smartphone into that sort of shell durability would be less of an issue

What about the other way around? (3, Insightful)

papaia (652949) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611356)

I'd rather have a Smartsoldier for Every Phone

and the new initiative is called... (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611374)

'Droids for Droids'

Battery Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611380)

My understanding is that they are already having trouble with the amount of batteries that need to be carted around by modern forces. Don't know what's been said in the US, but the Canadian Forces have been publicly saying they want some kind of common battery system for weight reasons alone. In short, are we sure that more electronics is actually a good idea at this point? At some point this stuff really does start impacting force mobility.

Think of the social networking aspect! (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611420)

Pvt Smith just checked in to "That Big Crater in the middle of the town"

Re:Think of the social networking aspect! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611530)

Mrs Smith has changed her relationship status to Single.

Re:Think of the social networking aspect! (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611804)

Score: 5, Funny

Radio Beacon (1)

monk.wal (141876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611434)

If your going to identify your location to the enemy, there must be cheaper options than a smart phone.

ultimate extreme penises (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611448)

Slashdot and Wikipedia ruined my life. I am a fat fucking troll you bastards and you need to fuck your self up the ass. Linux will never be on the desktop it has had since 1991 to compete and almost 20 years on you still have to deal with penguins shitting over your computer. -1 troll, but 5, true.

What Cell Towers? (1)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611452)

I could see using these things while not deployed, but I suspect that the coverage in Afghanistan will be a little poor. If they are talking about a souped up handset radio, it might work...

Re:What Cell Towers? (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611612)

They are planning to eventually use balloons and planes. Which I think it is idiotic, what if the enemy has a cell tower simulator? Cellphones are designed to freely choose the closest cell and the strongest signals. Even if they have roaming disabled, spoofing a cell tower is trivial, cellular networks weren't designed with military grade security in mind.

Re:What Cell Towers? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611926)

Simple, the signals units in the theater know where allied cell phone transmitters all are, when they detect a new site appear, they tell division artillery or combat air controllers where to send some high explosives.

Re:What Cell Towers? (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611932)

Not just spoofing it. Just home in on it and blow it up. It's a big loud radio source.

You have a relatively small number of central nodes that you can take out and play havoc with communications.

First one to light up gets smoked! (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611454)

So, you're going to put a comm device on every soldier that emits RF much of the time?

You better seed the whole place with decoy receiver transmitters or relay devices.

Else a military with any level of technical sophistication will use it to target and trigger munitions.

(I had a similar idea when I was in the Army still in the 80s. But it involved specifically putting out more decoys to act as relays than there were soldiers/real radios. Some of them moving, so that wouldn't be a way to decide which was real. Wasn't very practical at the time due to limits on the computing power available.)

Re:First one to light up gets smoked! (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611492)

Don't other people own cell phones? Even if you perhaps you discount the natives in certain cases, but what about press, red cross, and similar? You wouldn't get very clever results using it.

The fact that they're considering their use means there is an actual network connection to use. Maybe in the 80s it would have been the case, but nowadays you even have farmers who can hardly afford to buy clothes, using mobile devices to check market prices for their goods online.

Re:First one to light up gets smoked! (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611764)

Yes, they do have them in urban environments especially. But, issuing identical type smart phones to all your soldiers tags them even then.

So what if there are a few journalists or civilian with the same phones are among them? Would that stop someone if they could get, say, 45% of the time a soldier?

And out in the back areas where the population density is low, the rate is even better.

And, if you're going to use the phones in those back areas for more than voice, you have to have a reasonably modern cell network. So, the army sets one up. Even better. They'll probably encrypt it, so if you can't read the traffic, just blow it up to be sure.

Even today, in our highly wired developed world, radio silence had a definite place. If I'm going to be carrying something that chirps every few millisconds to seconds, I want to be able to silence it.

And, BTW, walking up to 100 meters from the objective and then suddenly ceasing all the radio emissions the opposing force has been seeing is another Big Clue(tm) that something is about to happen.

Bring the troops home first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611484)

I am sure they would rather we weren't at war.

What is the cellphone reception like in the mountains of Afghanistan anyway?

My bet (1)

andoman2000 (1755610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611498)

My bet is on the Motorola i1

Bad news for anyone expecting a free iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611512)

Only devices (which I know) which can be brought up to military security standards are:

Symbian
Windows CE (pre Win 7)
Android (with custom firmware)
Blackberry (of course with a very strict military server, nothing goes to Canada)
and obviously plain Linux.

I mean decent VPN support, authentication support, companies like Nokia who can build no camera devices, strict policies managed from a central location.

Of course Apple is capable of doing all of above and while comedies like app store exist, iPhone is a very advanced UNIX/NeXT device. Obviously Apple would never do it since they will not want to be involved with US Military that way.

I know Symbian very well and you can't believe how an evilly managed device (for user) you can create.

femtocell, anyone? (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611514)

Yeah, sure, it sounds like a stupendous idea. Praise Allah.

Jerseys!!!! (1)

hennyjack (1933170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611548)

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Hello? Roaming to the enemy tower? (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611570)

Seriously, gsm security has been proven again and again to be defeatable, the last demonstration was in defcon with a cell tower simulator that forced the device to remotely disable encryption.

GSM wasn't made for military communication, are they NUTS??

more proof defense spending is out of control (3, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611614)

conservatives should be all over cutting frivolous defense spending like this.

good -- until . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611630)

Sounds all good until one falls into enemy hands.

Motorola Defy (1)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611662)

The Motorola Defy is one hell of a beast and is the right smartphone for the military.

Android 2.1 (2.2 coming), IP67 rating (Sand/Dust-proof & Water Resistant), Scratch-Resistant glass, Drop resistant. Scores well in the quadrant benchmarks at 800MHz compared to other phones running at 1GHz with Android 2.2.

The screen is the same size as the iPhone, but the unit overall is smaller at the top and bottom and weighs less. The battery is removable.

The antenna design is also remarkable, one of the few phones (and the first Android phone) to be certified to be used in Rural Australia, on the very edge of coverage. A lot of users report that this phone holds calls in low coverage areas where other phones have failed.

If the Military is looking for an off-the-shelf phone to deploy, they can't go past this one. It ticks all the boxes to handle the environment, it is not too bulky like most ruggedised phones, the antenna performance in low-coverage areas is phenomenal, and it is running Android with all the features.

Android is also a better development platform for proprietary apps than iOS, as apps can be loaded without Market Approval, without having to register all of the iOS devices in the fleet as development phones or having to jailbreak.

Off the shelf? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611736)

Hmmm I'd think they'd at least want something ruggedized like this one [androidandme.com] that already meets military specs. There's no way a stock iPhone or more 'droid phones would stand up to any kind of abused in the field.

uNig6a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611754)

4, which by all accounts for less of t4e warring BSD had become

Bringing more innovation to the defence area (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611782)

I see this as an excellent opportunity for defence to be able to utilise the innovation of the small software vendor. Generally software supply contracts are won by big players. A platform like this enables small players to more easily get in the game as they can release apps tagged as defence apps, and the forces can see if they are useful or not. And yes, I haven't used American spelling in my post.

Readiness (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611828)

And here I am, considering dumping my smartphone for a good old fashioned dumbphone. Don't get me wrong, by HTC Hero is great as a web browser, a text messenger, a Wordfeud platform. If I want to see what time a movie is playing or what planets are visible in tonight's sky, the smartphone is awesome. But god help me if I want to make an actual phone call. If they thought repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell was going to be bad for military readiness...

Old idea, but not completely a bad one: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611858)

This sounds a lot like the old PLRS/JTIDS hybrid (Position Location Reporting System/Joint Tactical Information Dissemination System) ideas that were being shown off around the US Army Signal Center in 1980 or so. It would have relayed back the location of each unit, and allowed messages to be sent back and forth.

GPS didn't exist yet, so you kept location with timing between the nodes of the network. It was text messages at that time. Very limited, but still the core of the idea.

When encryptable packet switched radio came to the fore, it was one possible way to implement this on a more advanced basis. You could also make sigint and traffic analysis very difficult by dropping cheap realys/decoys all over the place. It would have been robust, as you destroy one, you still have many many paths to get your message through. Fill up network with bogus traffic so that traffic levels wouldn't spike before an operation. Or, spike them in one area as a ruse and then do something in a different area.

I fear, though that the US is getting overly used to fighting forces that have limited technological abilities. They probably won't make the investment to do the decoying and traffic loading that would make this safe against a more advanced military.

There's a joke in this about iPhones ... (1)

david@ecsd.com (45841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611882)

... and homosexuals in the military ...

Apologies for stating the obvious (2)

Nuke Bloodaxe (582098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611902)

"including one that allows soldiers to track colleague's locations on the battlefield."

Now, lets say I am a soldier that has just been killed. My device does not know this, but the opposing force does. They pickup my phone, start running through a list of who is on the battlefield, and designate where their snipers need to aim.

Alternatively, opposing force finds device, and now appears on the location system as the soldier. This could be a bit of an issue if they send a message via it for everyone to regroup... or medical evac. I can imagine a well booby trapped body for that.

My point being: convenience is very nice, but deactivating it on death is vital. This is not something you'll get off-the-shelf, but can be as simple as a plugin heart monitor with password reset in the event of no pulse.

Android (1)

koan (80826) | more than 3 years ago | (#34611906)

Android with custom hardened OS hands down, Apple has never impressed me with security and they've run off of "macs don't get viruses" for too long (although they never officially state this it is a common misconception).

Team America-Building.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34611986)

Recent security leak concerns aside, it also seems like "stock" models (possibly "custom" ones, too?) carried by each and every soldier would be akin to painting bullseyes on the soldiers' chests, whether alone, or worse yet in a group. Think of all the data and subsequent inferences we've all read about here in the past couple years regarding all sorts of "social networking"/communication hardware. While I can agree that these devices could be really useful, particularly with regard to efficiency of communications between soldiers, the data travels in space accessible to all. I'd think a smart and resourceful enemy could probably draw some useful conclusions just by studying traffic patterns, etc. Maybe we really are becoming "Team America" (FUCK YEAH!" - seems like the kind of well-intentioned disaster-waiting-to-happen that Gary and company always managed to be involved in....

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