The Army will begin giving soldiers their choice of a variety of smartphones as part of their standard equipment beginning in February.
The move is part of a program that started earlier this year called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications (CSDA) to equip soldiers with iPhones, Android-based devices, Touch Pros, Palm Treos, iPads, Kindles, and other devices to help them perform duties better, according to a report in Army Times.
The devices will be loaded with specialized applications and also allow soldiers to have constant access to email and other forms of communication.
Next year's deployment of devices will begin by giving soldiers secure access to email, contacts, and calendars through a rollout of common access card readers for the iPhone in January and for Android phones in April.
Eventually, the Army will find a way to create a secure network so soldiers on battlefields can use smartphone applications that allow them to view real-time intelligence and video from surveillance systems in the air. Applications also will be available to track both fellow and enemy soldiers on a dynamic map.
In June the Army said it was using smartphones in a pilot program aimed at testing the usefulness of giving soldiers, both in the field and in administrative positions, access to mobile applications.
As part of the initial CSDA testing, soldiers at Ft. Bliss, Texas, are currently trying out applications that help them identify friends or foes in the field. The Army also has been testing training applications in a classroom environment at several locations in the United States.
In October, the Army refocused CSDA because it realized the project wasn't "as simple as buying 1.2 million cell phones," according to a blog post on the federal CIO website. At the time the Army made changes based on what it learned since testing the devices. One decision made then was not to settle on one device but use a range of commercially available devices to keep costs down and ease system upgrades.
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