Arriving on the Battle Field: iPhones, Androids

Snapstick in action in CNET headquarters on an iPhone 4 and TV monitor.
James Martin/CNET
Snapstick in action on an iPhone 4 and TV monitor.
The iPhone may soon be among the smart phones deployed to combat soldiers under a new program by the U.S. military designed to streamline communications and intelligence gathering.
James Martin/CNET

Imagine the many ways smart phones have integrated into most people's daily lives: Talking, texting, emailing, video watching, game playing, researching, shopping, and so on.

Now imagine the possible ways in which having an iPhone or an Android on hand might make a soldier's life in combat easier.

Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said the military is testing the deployment of smart phones to soldiers in the field, the Army Times reports.

"One of the options potentially is to make it a piece of equipment in a soldier's clothing bag," Vane said.

Army-issued smart phones are already in the schoolhouse and garrison, in the hands of some students at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Lee, Va., and at Fort Sill, Okla., under an Army program called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications, the paper reports. CSDA's next step, already underway at Fort Bliss, Texas, is testing for the war zone.

With smart phones, soldiers could communicate with one another in multiple ways, watch airplane drone video live in the field, quickly go through maps, and share intelligence reports, just to name a few possible uses.

While military officials said they are considering all brands of smart phones, those handheld devices aren't the only technology being considered to revolutionize combat deployment, the Army Times reports.

"We're looking at everything from iPads to Kindles to Nook readers to mini-projectors," said Mike McCarthy, director of the mission command complex of Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss. "What we're doing is fundamentally changing how soldiers access knowledge, information, training content and operational data. The day you sign on to be a soldier, you will be accessing information and knowledge in garrison and in an operational environment in a seamless manner. We're using smart phone technologies to lead this."

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.