Ground troops to get access to Army's smart phone network

Gen. Pater Chairelli views the Army's Common Operating Environment as the potential game changer to get the service's network planned for smart phones to "the lowest levels" possible.

The Army wants to broaden its networked phone plan to all soldiers, including at the squad and team levels.

Gen. Peter Chiarelli views the Army’s Common Operating Environment (COE) as the potential game changer to get the Army’s network planned for smart phones to “the lowest levels” possible, writes Spencer Ackerman of Wired.com’s Danger Room. Chiarelli, who spoke at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. this week, said smart phones for the nation’s ground forces would provide soldiers a “tremendous advantage.”


Related story:

Army puts new battlefield network strategy in place


Chiarelli, who carries an iPhone, commented on the way insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan communicate skillfully, and lamented that U.S. soldiers should be able to do the same, according to Wired.com.

The Army’s COE guidance, rolled out in October 2010, is a series of computing technologies and standards that will allow secure and interoperable applications to be developed quickly and executed across a variety of computing environments, such as servers, clients, mobile devices, sensors, and platforms.

Whether the developer is a soldier or a defense company worker, the COE is designed “to guide development of different communication tools, whether they’re radios or smart phones or applications for the phones,” according to Wired.com.

The network, being championed by the Army to be developed sooner rather than later, will be able to be used with any mobile device.  The smart phones will be linked into a network with access to information from across a war zone and back home.

A consensus exists in the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command that the time has come to equip soldiers with the phones, Mike McCarthy, an official charged with exploring the Army’s smart phone use, tells Wired.com. As a civilian at Fort Bliss, Texas, with the Brigade Modernization Command, McCarthy has seen troops experimenting with the technology in a simulated war environment. He expects a “top level decision” on issuance this year.

As the Army puts a new battlefield network strategy in place, it will use lessons learned from the Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team effort, according to Defense Systems. In particular, that effort gleaned information about what soldiers really need from networked operations such as the need for more connectivity. Based on field tests, the most useful network applications for warfighters were chat, whiteboarding and file transfer.

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