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U.S. Army wants to put iPhones in troops’ hands

The United States Army thinks that the future of war will include iPhones and Androids.  An Army program called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications (CSDA) plans to test smartphones in the field starting in 2011, according to the Army Times.

“What we’re doing is fundamentally changing how soldiers access knowledge, information, training content and operational data,”  Mike McCarthy, the director of the mission command complex of Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, told the Army Times.

The Army already employs smartphones for training purposes at bases throughout the U.S. And if field testing is successful, troops may be carrying iPhones and Androids into combat zones in the very near future. In fact, the Army may even let soldiers have a preference as to what device they carry with them as part of their gear — Army officials seem to think that both Droids and iPhones will make fine companions for soldiers.

Of course, smartphones aren’t designed for the rigors of daily life in the armed forces much less combat zones. And rather than spending money on working with companies to develop tougher new models of existing devices, the Army says it will simply modify, or “ruggedize,” existing smartphones to make them more suitable for deployment.The CSDA is also considering developing its own iTunes-esque portal to deliver Army-approved apps to soldiers in a secure fashion.

Officials are still considering how to manage customization for smartphones. One option would allow troops a monthly stipend to download apps appropriate to their assigned duties. It’s not clear if the Army plans to develop its own apps or to use apps available to the public.

The Army may not stop with smartphones either. Officials say that they’re also considering the benefits of iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and mini-projectors.