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Going To War? The Army’s Got An App For That

Posted by Carlo Munoz on

Washington: Going to war? The Army may soon have an app for that.
Today the Army rolled out the newest version of their NetWarrior program, a system designed to let individual soldiers tie into the massive command and control networks used by the Army to coordinate its operations.
This version of the system is centered around what the service is calling an “end user device,” which is essentially an Android or iPhone-like smartphone that runs off the military’s Joint Tactical Radio System, Bill Brower, deputy project manager for the Army’s soldier warrior directorate, said today.
The setup, which weighs a total of five pounds, dwarfs previous iterations of the NetWarrior system, according to Brower.
The Army has 60 working prototypes of the new system now. Half are based on the smartphone platform, the other half are based on an iPad-like tablet, he added.
While these prototypes were built using commercially-available products, hardened to withstand the rigors of combat, Brower said the final versions of each system will be built up to military specifications and run off of secure DoD networks.
Once fielded, soldiers will be able to access an “app store” that will let them securely download a wide swath of programs into either the smartphone or tablet version of the system.
Those apps, Brower added, will let U.S. troops call in fire support missions, plan and coordinate operations and track friendly forces – all with the swipe of a finger.
While the parallels are unmistakable, Brig. Gen. Camille Nichols, head of PEO-Solider was quick to point out that NetWarrior “was not a phone” and the features that come on the system would be limited to military use.
But Brower acknowledged the use of the Android operating system as the basis for the new NetWarrior program is causing concern.
In a report released in August, software security firm McAffee ranked the Android as being the smartphone most suceptible to malware, beating out the iPhone and other similar models.
When asked why the Army chose the Android OS for NetWarrior, and not something more secure, like the OS that runs the iPhone, Brower said the service was still “evaluating products” and no decision has been made about using the Android.
But reiterating the point made by Nichols, the final version of NetWarrior will meet all the service’s security and encryption requirements, regardless of which operating system the service ends up using.

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