US Army Looking for a Few Good Apps
Leaders from the US Army's technology command visited Apple at its Cupertino headquarters as part of a program to investigate the use of consumer electronic products on the battlefield. The US military has been radically upgrading its Army command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems, as technology advances - in many cases built on inventions originally developed by the Defense Department - filter back into military use.
The Army announced today
that the awesomely-named Major General Nick Justice, commander of the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) brought key members of his staff to One Infinite Loop on March 5, and toured labs and other facilities. The Army's research and development command is evaluating commercial hand-held devices that will better meet the more nimble 21st century force. "The Army is moving away from big-green-box solutions," General Justice said, and "toward those that will adapt along with our warfighters on the battlefield."
The Army's "Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications" initiative will investigate how the Army could be using hand-held devices - like iPods, iPhones and iPads - in the military context. RDECOM's Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center has already developed two iPhone apps: COIN Collector, a counter-insurgency information collection tool, and MilSpace, a planning and social networking app. "Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual," said Ron Szymanski, CERDEC's lead computer scientist.
Military uses for iPhone technology have already been explored by key defense contractor Raytheon, whose One Force Tracker app uses the iPhone's GPS technology to show the location of friendly and enemy forces on Google-like maps in real time, and provides secure communications to identify threats like snipers and coordinate battlefield activities. Raytheon indicated they may be developing a heavily modded, ruggedized iPhone for use with the app.