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Army Develops Android-Based Framework For Battlefield Ops

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the smart-phones-and-smart-bombs dept.

Android 80

gabbo529 writes "The United States Army is developing an Android-based smartphone framework and suite of applications for tactical operations. With the marriage between technology and military continuing to strengthen, more soldiers are getting phones for on-the-field operations. Already, the military has developed the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P Handheld, which has an app that can be used to mark warning signals to future soldiers."

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FTA !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906308)

Which stands for something not becoming.

SONG (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906338)

Deep in my heart i ABHOR ya....
can't do where you make pee....GOOD GAWD!

We're gonna hump down to wha-hair your mommy poops
and then we'll hump her anus.....AYE
We're gonna hump down to wha-hair your mommy poops
and then we'll hump her anus.....OOES NOOOO!

Who are the 3rd parties? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 3 years ago | (#35906390)


"Using the Mobile /Handheld CE Product Developers Kit, we're going to allow the third-party developers to actually develop capabilities that aren't stovepiped,"

So who are the 3rd parties? Anyone notice an upward trend in the hiring of android devs in the defense sector?

I'm at least hoping this gives private citizens more of a "voice" in how their military operates. Hell, just have an idea submission form on the website and let the contractors worry about the development.

Re:Who are the 3rd parties? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906416)

The third parties are clearly the defense contractors not some average schmuck.

like HBGary, Berico, and Palantir (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#35907364)

clearly, not schmucks. nope.

Re:like HBGary, Berico, and Palantir (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 3 years ago | (#35908986)

What's wrong with Palantir? More importantly, how would random slashdot guy know anything about such an insignificant company?

Re:like HBGary, Berico, and Palantir (1)

not-my-real-name (193518) | about 3 years ago | (#35909714)

The parent didn't say that the defense contractors weren't schmucks. He/she said that they weren't average schmucks.

i apologize to all the above average schmucks (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#35911806)

i did not mean to equate them with those whose level of schmuck is on an average or sub average level

Re:Who are the 3rd parties? (1)

hax4bux (209237) | about 3 years ago | (#35908426)

Raytheon has money to develop Android infrastructure, but I don't know if this is the same project.

I'm not sure what insight you want to share w/the Army, but they already have public affairs people who are just waiting to hear from you. Tell them "slashdot sent me".

Question (4, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | about 3 years ago | (#35906422)

Question for those who know about such things - wouldn't the RF emissions from a phone of the battlefield give away information about troop locations and deployment?

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906476)

Perhaps the Home button now switches on Airplane Mode or something of the like, or perhaps they use non-standard frequencies + encryption so it may seem like background noise. I am sure there are ways to track them, but I would not expect many outfits to setup arrays of sensors. Most likely this system will work with the HUD that many ground troops seem to get (many pictures of soldiers covering an eye to see the display better), and whose purpose may overlap with this framework.

Re:Question (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#35906566)

Without commenting on any military technology I don't understand anyway, it is theoretically possible to do relatively narrow-beam communications to a repeater in the sky, e.g. a satellite or an AWACS. But most of the time the bad guys know nominally where we are, and since we mostly bomb poor people with a pretty lousy military they wouldn't have the technology to figure out where individuals are and target them... yet. I'd guess these systems actually do just use broadcast communications but it's simply not an issue... yet.

Re:Question (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#35906634)

Modern battlefields are saturated with RF. If required for stealth ops in nation-state war equipment can be turned off.

In non-nation-state war ease of communication and the very short value of most data make convenient comms useful.

Re:Question (3, Interesting)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 3 years ago | (#35906726)

My guess is that the tactical versions of all of this will use a frequency hoping radio in the "phone" and a dedicated military tower infrastructure with encryption. We already have the equivalent of mobile cell towers that can be put up or dropped in thirty minutes or so. There's almost certainly a lot more to this than a few Android apps, but using Android as the base OS on the portable soldier carried device will save a lot of development work.

Write drivers for the Android kernel that abstract away the specialty radio hardware, and suddenly you can do secure tactical communication software development using the same tools that make Angry Birds. better still this stuff can be tested, proof of concepted, even trained on back in the US using cheap commercial hardware, then put on ruggedized equipment with more secure radio hardware in theater.

Re:Question (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#35906796)

Angry Birds could be the basis of one fantastic mortar app.

Re:Question (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35908136)

Unless the mortar is a 5-meter slingshot (yes, someone's done the math assuming earth gravity, and those birds are about 1.5 meters in diameter), it's not.

Re:Question (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 3 years ago | (#35909988)

My guess is that the tactical versions of all of this will use a frequency hoping radio in the "phone" and a dedicated military tower infrastructure with encryption.

Why would this be necessary, or even useful? Why not just layer the encryption on top of an already-well-tested-and-deployed protocol like CDMA?

It's a vastly different world, nowadays. Virtually everywhere, civilian communications networks vastly outperform strictly military networks in ubiquity, reliability, and low cost. You can be sure as anything that the "bad guys" are using their local, civilian networks for their own communications - low cost cell phones, etc - and so are unlikely to try to "take it out". And if they do, so what? There's a multiplicity of networks!

I have an app on my Android phone called "itune radio". With it, I can listen to virtually any radio station, anywhere in the world, in close to real time. When I'm at home, I'm listening via my home Wifi. When on the road, I listen via cellular. At work, it's the office Internet connection.

The specific network(s) in question mean almost nothing.

Re:Question (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 3 years ago | (#35910478)

Because you can't rely on the civilian network being there, or being effective. In Iraq we got fair to middling voice coverage on personal cell phones from Iraqna but as far as I know their data service capabilities were extremely spotty. This was also inside the main American camp and very close to Baghdad, I'm told that on conveys, or out in the country, even voice service was spotty. Granted this was a few years ago, during the worst of the insurgency; and before widespread data adoption even here in the US, but still we can't count on things being calm enough for regular cell tower maintenance where we show up. By most stories I've heard Afganistan is even worse. Whole swathes of the country have almost no cell service.

We're saying no ground troops in Libya, but as a thought experiment, what if we did send troops? Until those clever guys from Dubai finally hacked the cell towers, rebel controlled areas were getting no cell service at all. Assuming the area we're fighting in has a working, reliable cell network and we have access to it, how do we keep it functional? The enemy will know we use it, it'll be tempting to blow towers. They aren't placed in defensible positions after all, they're placed to maximize a commercial service. You say they won't "take it out" but they won't have too. Just the towers near us. Not every country has a "multiplicity of networks" either. Iraqna was the main game in town in Baghdad, there were a few other smaller carriers, but they mostly piggy backed on Iraqna's network and paid access fees.

What about a "real" conventional war again against another national army? It's not a likely scenario at the moment, but you shouldn't ignore it either. Who's to say they won't jam civilian frequencies knowing we rely on them? Hell even National Guard deployments to natural disasters in this country can't rely on civilian cell networks for command and control. New Orleans had virtually no cell service in the worst hit areas for weeks after Katrina.

Re:Question (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#35906812)

there are already thousands of radios, gps units and other RF devices on the battlefield. the plusses of this are too much to ignore.

20 years ago if a unit made contact with an enemy they would radio to their next level HQ and so on and so on. with this you plot the location on the map and the data is available to everyone. also reduces radio chatter and frees up the radio networks for important traffic.

same with orders. no need to talk on the radio with a lot of static. just send the orders digitally

Re:Question (2)

rickb928 (945187) | about 3 years ago | (#35906834)

Yes, the modern battlefield is saturated with RF. EW operations now include cellphone and GPS manipulation, so you can safely assume that if we want to listen in on Al Queda cell calls in Afghanistan, we can. And probably triangulate the phone location at least as well as Apple can with a stock iPhone & IOS4(?).

But a battle-ready smartphone doesn't need to be limited to conventional spectrum. And with a decent encrypted radio, such as is being used already, communications can be relatively safe. Relatively, I say, since with time and resources most anything can be figured out. One of the goals of an EW operation is to deny the enemy the information they seek within a useful time period. If they work out which of the targets is the strike aircraft after it's delivered its munitions and exited the theater, well, that's nice glad you figured out who just flattened your CP good buddy.

I expect JBC-P will be a well hardened battlefield comm system, and will survive in a hostile RF environment. I epxect it will be delivered with multiple options, satellite, terrestrial, and other RF modes. Even probably link into other network on the battlefield, is it DL16 the Air force is using now for their data networking, shared with the Navy and others?

Sounds like an excellent approach. Android can offer fairly quick development cycles with good talent, and it's being actively improved daily. Requirements are low, it's as open as you're gonna get, and having an enhanced device means troops could be getting better mapping, more intel, and more reliable comm. In battle, sometimes it's who sees who first. More info = success.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907142)

That used to be an issue with MANET as well. The solution is to generate extra "fake" traffic so that a critical node (the Sergeant giving orders) cannot be identified by traffic density. The problem is that you thus generate extra power demand, which remains logistical problem no 1: you need to carry a lot of extra fuel during deployment to cover charging all these gadgets..

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907548)

You simple fool. Do not forget Sun Tzu, who said that most of all "the art of war is in deception. When you are weak, make them think you are strong. When you are strong, make them think you are weak, to draw out their attack." It's an old game with a new twist.

Re:Question (1)

Jonner (189691) | about 3 years ago | (#35907626)

Yeah, that's the reason troops never have RF devices currently. Hand signals and carrier pigeons are good enough.

Re:Question (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#35907692)

Yes and no. Modern military radios use spread spectrum and encryption to make them hard to locate and hard to listen in on. Now the rest of this is just off the cuff and some historical information. There are several ways make it even more secure. For on thing is forward units could choose to transmit only when they absolutely need to. They would listen and not talk. To keep say a head quarters secret you could have several transmitter sites linked to the HQ by cable or fiber. They can take out one transmitters but that isn't a big deal because you can just change to a new transmitter but the HQ stays hidden. Of course the in modern combat this is exactly what they do but they use commsat as the transmitter.
Like everything in life it is a trade off but the US is really good at secure communications.

SONG (repost) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906426)

Deep in my heart i ABHOR ya....
can't do where you make pee....GOOD GAWD!

We're gonna hump down to wha-hair your mommy poops
and then we'll hump her anus.....AYE
We're gonna hump down to wha-hair your mommy poops
and then we'll hump her anus.....OOES NOOOO!

App usage while out on patrol (5, Funny)

Tanlis (304135) | about 3 years ago | (#35906454)

While out in the field with the Android phone and the new apps...

Sergeant: Private! Check to see if any other patrols have left any warning signals near here.

Private: Ok Sarge!

5 minutes later...

Sergeant: Private! What's taking so long? Are there any damn warnings?!?!

Private: Ohh! Sorry Sarge. I had to wait for the ad for Angry Birds Rio to finish loading and then I decided to download to it.

Sergeant: Gomer!!!

Re:App usage while out on patrol (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 3 years ago | (#35906664)

With the use of the phones as controllers for drones, Angry Birds could become a much more interesting game.

Just some of the stuff available (1)

superslacker87 (998043) | about 3 years ago | (#35906694)

To the general public. Search for developer FA53 on the market.

https://market.android.com/search?q=FA53&so=1&c=apps [android.com]

Re:Just some of the stuff available (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 3 years ago | (#35907858)

One of these things is not like the others... The Small Catechism? Strange thing for a military app maker to produce... Also strange that anyone would want it in an app... most copies are smaller than a phone.

(Small Catechism is a book written by Martin Luther for Confirmation students (basically early-teen Sunday school))

Re:Just some of the stuff available (1)

superslacker87 (998043) | about 3 years ago | (#35908866)

This is true. The developer (a student in the 25A Functional Area 53 (IT) officer's course) is not an Army developer, but is working on apps to show they can be of use to the Army. I know that I've use the PT app on more than one occasion and have looked at the others. There is a small group of the students who do the programming. My guess is that the main owner of FA53 is a Lutheran and thus wanted that published. Probably should have used a different account, but I'm not worried about it.

this is neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906718)

it's cool to see that it's not only DARPA developing such pervasive technology adopted my the military.

OSS - Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35906724)

Am I the only one that sees the modification of open-source software in the military as a bad thing? If the entire purpose of the military is to protect the country, then developing tools with which to more effectively fight- and releasing some of those tools to our potential enemies in order to stay compliant with the GPL- would seem to be counterproductive.

Who am I fooling though- the US military worrying about being compliant with OSS licenses?

Re:OSS - Bad Idea (4, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 3 years ago | (#35906802)

There's no GPL issue. The military simple doesn't release the software. The GPL allows organizations to keep their source code private as long as they don't try to redistribute the software. What the military does is the functional equivalent of Google making proprietary kernel mods for their internal version of Linux, except the "organization" happens to have a few million employees. Sometimes they do release military software to the public, but in that case if the compiled binary isn't classified, the source has to have been scrubbed for classified information before compilation. So releasing source wouldn't be an issue anyway.

Re:OSS - Bad Idea (1)

npsimons (32752) | about 3 years ago | (#35914686)

Sometimes they do release military software to the public, but in that case if the compiled binary isn't classified, the source has to have been scrubbed for classified information before compilation. So releasing source wouldn't be an issue anyway.

The GP is an ignoramus. Software made while in the employ of the US government (think civil servants, not contractors) is public domain; it's right in the copyright law. It might take a little time getting through the red tape, especially to make sure there's nothing sensitive, but you can get the source code to government projects.

Re:OSS - Bad Idea (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 3 years ago | (#35908064)

If and only if the military is distributing software based on GPL they must distribute the source to the same people/organizations they're distributing to.

1) if they keep it internal, they do not need to distribute source.

2)If they share with other branches (ie a marines app gets shared with the army) then they'd need to share source with the other branch. The two branches can then collaborate.

3) If they share with allies (ie the US DoD sharing with the Canadian Forces), they would need to share source with the ally. The ally is then able to verify there is no backdoor and also tailor it to their own needs. For example, the Canadian Rangers may want to mark non-military hazards or resources like thin ice, polar bear sightings, or Caribou herds, which are unlikely to be a concern in most of the theaters the developing force operates in. If the app in question is of military use only (calling in air strikes, for example), neither ally is likely to share further.

4) If they publish publicly, only then must they publicly release the source. Such an app is not likely to be secret.

Excellent - now you can Google the war efforts.. (0)

cheros (223479) | about 3 years ago | (#35906944)

I guess this is another club that has fallen for the Google "open" claims for Android. On the other hand, Google is a US company, so an internal intelligence leak might not be a big problem.

Quality move to base yourself on a platform whose vendor makes money with taking data from you - try to run Android features without a (totally unnecessary) login to a Google account.. That'll be mighty funny when they go into theater and log in "Google has just added Wave 2 - activate Y/N?". Or launch bomb: 22000 ammo hits found - choose "I feel lucky?"

Leaves one question: the next time a bomb causes collateral damage, will Google sue the DoD for causing more gloss to fall off their "do no evil" statement? Just curious..

Re:Excellent - now you can Google the war efforts. (1)

Jonner (189691) | about 3 years ago | (#35907710)

The Google account login is only necessary for specific applications (especially the Google ones of course), not for the Android platform. The platform (not including the apps) is available under Free and Open Source licenses and can therefore be customized to use or not use any services desired. The US military has their own worldwide data networks and communications infrastructure, so it would be stupid for them to rely on any Google services.

Re:Excellent - now you can Google the war efforts. (1)

cheros (223479) | about 3 years ago | (#35913338)

The first problem is the Free and Open [theregister.co.uk] claim. The second problem is that Google, like Facebook, grew up on the wave of privacy violations committed under the guise of anti-terror measures - you could say it's in the corporate DNA. The third problem is that Google hasn't exactly done much to engender trust by breaking privacy laws in various ways in many countries as if the law doesn't apply to them (the WiFi data grabbing, Streetview issue) - it exposed the "do no evil" for the BS it was. It is a shame, because the company has been responsible for a revolution in search, I just wished they stopped with their backhanded attempts to subvert users into their way of thinking/working. Case in point: just how much data does Chrome send back to base? If a company takes out expensive full page adds on London Underground to market something that is FREE there must be something else they gain from it - follow the money or ask at least that question.

Whatever the DoD decides, it ought to use something that is fully under their own control, not some 3rd party, yet is maintained. That is a hard balance to manage. If Google is smart it makes the full Android platform indeed unconditionally open, at which point you could start investing some funding into ensuring security and create devices based on it. As long as Google is pretending it wants "quality" control but clearly is after something else I don't think they're worth the trust they so crave.

Let's look at the bright side: at least there appears to be nobody left who in all seriousness would recommend Windows - there isn't enough in-theater bandwidth to keep up with the patching. Ditto for Adobe products - you could say they are now very much Microsoft compatible..

Re:Excellent - now you can Google the war efforts. (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#35930030)

The Register article you reference is talking about Android 3.0 and there is no indication that's what the Army does or intends to use. That seems very unlikely, since Android 3.0 is supposedly intended only for tablets. Though it's unclear when or if Android 3.0 will be released as Free and Open Source software, 2.x versions are actually unconditionally Open Source [android.com] .

I wouldn't try to dispute any of your complaints about Google's use of data. However, I think that's unrelated to this issue because the Army does not need to give any data to Google in order to use the Open Source releases of Android. Since the Army has their own communications infrastructure, they have no need for Google's or anyone else's and would be foolish to rely on outside providers.

Whatever the DoD decides, it ought to use something that is fully under their own control, not some 3rd party, yet is maintained.

So, you're saying that any smartphone platform the DOD uses should be developed solely by them with no outside help from companies or any FLOSS development community. If they do that, they can maintain it to whatever level they want, given enough manpower. It seems the point of the project to use Android as a basis is intended to save money versus developing a platform from scratch. Not only would it take a lot more of the Army's time to develop their own system from scratch, but it would be a lot harder and more expensive to get phone manufacturers to support it.

Err, no, that's not what I said.. (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 2 years ago | (#35935414)

So, you're saying that any smartphone platform the DOD uses should be developed solely by them with no outside help from companies or any FLOSS development community.

No, that's NOT what I said. I said they should remain in full control, which is actually more likely with FLOSS sourced code. What they need to do is take code, freeze it so it can be audited end to end, and then roll in updates after audit. I would actually disagree with the DoD brewing their own because it takes time to build up the required expertise and the whole exercise would be very inefficient..

Re:Err, no, that's not what I said.. (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 2 years ago | (#35944812)

Though the details are slim at this point what you describe seems a likely scenario. We'll have to wait until the release of the Army's distribution of Android to see what they did with it and get some idea of how they'll manage it.

Create a reliance... (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 3 years ago | (#35907144)

on unhardened, consumer technology. What a wonderful idea. America will only attack the poor, weak, and defenseless but that doesn't mean America will not be attacked but a nearer military equal. Of course in this case, even some poor, weak and defenseless chap that just so happened to take a few classes in electrical engineering before joining the intifada.

Re:Create a reliance... (1)

Jonner (189691) | about 3 years ago | (#35907764)

From the article:

The Army is whether or not a commercial made phone or government off the shelf model is more appropriate.

As poorly written as that is, it sounds like the Army is considering using their own phone designs. I'm sure they're capable of designing hardened devices that can run Android if they need to. The Army has used hardened PC hardware for a long time.

Re:Create a reliance... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 3 years ago | (#35908552)

Makes sense, although count on those phones being plenty expensive.

I know somebody who works for a government contractor and they told me a story they heard about some army meeting with a cell phone manufacturer. The army promised that if they tailored a phone to their specs they'd buy 100k of them. The manufacturer told them that they didn't deal with such small quantities. The army was apparently shocked, not realizing the true scale of consumer hardware manufacture.

Likewise he had stories of meetings where big contractors are lambasted because generals can buy apps on their app store for $1 on a consumer phone, but anything made for the military is the size of a laptop and has all of 5 apps for it that cost $50M each or whatever. The contractor tried to explain that the company making the consumer phone gets to build whatever they think people will buy and make it to the least common denominator, while the army won't buy it unless you can run over it with a tank and wants to pre-approve just about every aspect of the UI/etc.

The reality is that both general consumer and custom-made hardware have their places. Your iphone would be fried if taken through the radiation belts to the moon, and your $50 commercial GPS would be useless in WWIII 10 seconds after all the jamming starts (let alone selective availability).

That said, the consumer world could stand to take some lessons from the army. Ages ago NATO decided to standardize their ammunition on small arms, so that the depot wouldn't need to stock 57 different kinds of ammo based on the requirements of all the member country armies. If only lithium ion batteries came in standard sizes and configurations, with standard chargers. It would probably cut the price of laptop batteries in half, and prevent quite a few fires...

Re:Create a reliance... (1)

Jonner (189691) | about 3 years ago | (#35908754)

I certainly agree that both the commercial and military approaches have tradeoffs and are appropriate for different situations. It sounds like the Army is trying to standardize on a software platform just as they did with ammunition. Just as 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition can be used in an M-24 sniper rilfe, M-240 machine gun, or M-134 minigun, the Army could use their Android distribution on HTC or Motorola phones or their own designs.

Re:Create a reliance... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 3 years ago | (#35909024)

Makes sense, although count on those phones being plenty expensive

Have you SEEN our defense budget? Do you see any of these "smaller government" morons clamoring for a smaller defense budget?

Cost will not be an issue.

Re:Create a reliance... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#35908582)

Except they aren't.

But you keep coming up with reason to poo poo any article.

Cause we don't have enough people like you already~

Re:Create a reliance... (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 3 years ago | (#35908836)

Except they are--presently, and "not sure" for the future.

The Mobile /Handheld CE development kit will be released in July of this year. The Army is whether or not a commercial made phone or government off the shelf model is more appropriate. Regardless, the Army says, the software development kit will be designed for a variety of Android based systems.

"I saw the ability when a soldier is wounded to take a picture of the wound and to pass that to the doctors, so that medics can make sure that they are treating the soldier in the appropriate way, given the wound that he has received. So there are many, many applications of this,"

McCarthy said that to date, the project has been run on shoestring budget, and he'd like to keep it that way. Defense contractors have provided him with proposals that would requrre the expenditure "of a lot of money," he said, but he does not want to pursue proposals that would transform a $200 commercial gadget into a $2,400 Army-unique phone. from [nextgov.com]


I'm not certain if the you you speak of is directed targeted at me or what you perceive to be people like me, but really, I think there's a benefit to people thinking critically and trying to not simply believe the marketing without due consideration and proper knowledge.

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907156)

I wonder if (and how) these devices would be tied to an individual soldier, to keep them from being mis-used when they are lost one way or another.

Also, how well would they work in the arctic or other environments where the user would be wearing thick gloves.

Uh oh (1)

psyph3r (785014) | about 3 years ago | (#35907202)

"Looks like i got a text alert about a warning ahea"...shhhhuck...boom head shot! That's what you get for looking at your phone while playing modern warfare

Great... Yet Another Platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907322)

Great... Yet another platform to saturate the already taxed tactical networks with tons of data.... Not to mention another device they'll want me to support.

I feel the RF comment has already been covered fairly well, but I can say that the Army version would have a frequency-hopping feature to prevent accurate triangulation.

that's great. so have they caught bin ladin? (0)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#35907338)

i know i know, i hate to keep bringing it up. but you know, it's been a while, and you know. some of the people are kind of wondering. you know how it is.

some guy blows up a building and kills 3,000 people, you know, its like next thing you know, every bodys acting all impatient, wanting to 'capture' him. i know its crazy. but.. thats just how things are sometimes.

Re:that's great. so have they caught bin ladin? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#35907772)

Many of his closest associates are grease-stains on the sand.

It's a mistake to focus on just one single individual. I know you weren't meaning to explore the issue, though, just make some cheap points.

Re:that's great. so have they caught bin ladin? (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#35908092)

many of his closest associates were quickly replaced by other associates who come out of the endless poverty stricken wasteland that is run by a corrupt dictatorship who we have been allied to for the past 30 years.

i dont understand how a cell phone is going to end this war

Re:that's great. so have they caught bin ladin? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#35908616)

Except it doesn't really work that way, when you loose a long time top official you loose everything they have been working on. Contacts go away, suppliers go away, and the people moving into those position don't have the experience, so it hurts and slows down the organization. It also proved opportunities to get your own people closers.

As for cell phones: any communication that makes the soldiers job easier, there information more up to date, and real time tactics is a good thing.

Palantir Mobile (1)

FrozenFOXX (1048276) | about 3 years ago | (#35907604)

Disclaimer: I'm not in any way affiliated with Palantir.

Palantir Mobile [palantirtech.com]

My bet? It's to use more of this. Seriously seeing Palantir Mobile in action is bloody freakin awesome.

Re:Palantir Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35910464)

These the same jokers who are trying to deny everything in their involvement with HBGary?

Some background information (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35907632)

Just to get some solid information out there to counter the "hurr durr soldiers playing angry birds" stuff. The Army has been planning how to utilize mobile devices for a while. Implementing everything takes a lot of time, however, because of bureaucratic regulations. (Anyone who's worked corporate IT has an idea.) It's basically a three-phase plan, which is pretty much forked into separate projects at this point.
Phase 1- Develop mobile apps/webapps for unclassified material. (As mentioned above, search the App Store/Market for FA53 and you'll find quite a few of these.) This is non-tactical stuff, simply leveraging the number of soldiers who already own smartphones. Happening now.
Phase 2- Develop technologies to comply with federal IT security standards, to allow for apps for sensitive (still unclassified) material. Once all the pieces are in place (at-rest encryption, smart card access for multifactor authentication, few other things), likely see an official Army device. Likely Android, but WP7/BB are still possibilities, they're just farther back on jumping the hurdles. (Apple is out of the running at this point unless I'm totally misreading the tea leaves) Happening in the next few years.
Phase 3- Go tactical. This will most certainly be a custom device (as discussed in the article), which will resemble the current Android experience very little. (No Market, no root, etc.) Significant infrastructure challenges still exist here (the Army cell network doesn't exist, yet), and that's not even touching on all the security issues revolving around classified material. It's a lot harder to lose a mapping system attached to a vehicle than a pocket device. It'll happen, but it won't be anytime soon for large-scale Army fielding. Can't comment on what may or may not be in development for SOCOM, though.

Can i have their handset? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35908080)

Because to be useful as a tactical tool, it's going to need to be hyper-rugged, and I can stop treating my smartphone like a robin's egg.

Why not use iOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35908324)

Why not use iOS? At least HQ would know the location of everyone then.

Treasure Trove of Intel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35908348)

Dear god I hope someone considered the chances of such devices falling into enemy hands. They better be encrypted to all jesus christ and back, with failsafe passwords in case troops get caught and forced to give up passwords for the devices (maybe with some good counter-intel).

Re:Treasure Trove of Intel (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 3 years ago | (#35909838)

with failsafe passwords in case troops get caught

Maybe a real password that gives someone access to the device, and a fake password that gives partial access to the device (to make it look like the real password was given) and alerts HQ that the device has been captured - which allows them to feed false information to the device, turns on the camera and microphone so HQ can listen, and also consider rescuing the soldier(s).

Market Apps (1)

ebs16 (1069862) | about 3 years ago | (#35908654)

I hope that they ban these phones from installing any non-approved apps, among other restrictions. With no screening process for Google Market apps, we could see a virus that spreads quickly throughout the military network (think stuxnet) disguised as "AWESOME WALLPAPERS!" or "ANGRY BIRDS CHEAT APP."

the display... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35908900)

probably chunks when i try and scroll to the right.

It's really about the radios (1)

bonzai2010 (2063590) | about 3 years ago | (#35914092)

There are some significant omissions in this article. First, the phones don't have any cellular connectivity. There are no friendly base stations out in Afghanistan. The phones are being provided backhaul via a wired connection to a JTRS radio. In fact, it's likely that the wireless modems on the phones would be disabled for real deployment. What's exciting is that the radios are a huge improvement over what soldiers have today. Android simply provides them with a framework for display devices. Depending on their needs, they could have a Xoom or a Droid or something with a keyboard (for when you have to wear gloves). The important thing is that the radios need to make it to approval. If you are interested in the radios, just look up jtrs on the General Dynamics website. Soldiers need these and lots of other manufactures are throwing rocks at them to try and win the business. The problem is, killing this radio will just delay things even further while another purchasing cycle starts. That would be terrible. If you are interested in seeing android hit the battlefield, send your congressman a note and tell him you think our soldiers should have technology that's better than what the Taliban is carrying around. Help get the radios approved and we'll make sure they have an android display.

So, will the US Military... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35914198)

be invading East Texas then to liberate linux from there? They do realise that, while google will undoubtedly appeal, that linux is under severe ridiculous US patent monopoly threat, right?

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