Magazine article National Defense

Smartphones to Proliferate among Dismounted Troops

Magazine article National Defense

Smartphones to Proliferate among Dismounted Troops

Article excerpt

* The Army is ready to expand the use of smartphones loaded with command-and-control and situational awareness applications across the service.

The Nett Warrior program, formerly known as Land Warrior, has for more than a decade looked at pushing real-time information down to platoon leaders. Also known as "dismounted mission command," it has been widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan and among Army Special Forces. The Army acquisition executive this fall is expected to approve full-rate production, which will total 63,000 systems. That will spread the technology to every Army unit, program officials said.

"We all have a thousand different apps for a thousand different things," Maj. Trond S. Ruud, assistant product manager for Nett Warrior, said in an interview at the Network Integration Evaluation 17.2 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas. The vision is to offer the kind of choices consumers have on their smartphones to those who lead ground troops.

The device has many of the basic functions of a smartphone. It has voice and text, can share PDFs or documents, and is able to take pictures so they can be sent to higher headquarters. It also has GPS for blue force tracking.

The device is worn about chest high and is covered by a flap until needed. The platoon leader flips it down to view the screen. The smartphone connects to a radio and a powerpack.

Along with these basic features, there will be a host of Army-specific apps, he said. When it comes to devices for platoon leaders, they should be all integrated onto Nett Warrior, he said.

"It doesn't make sense for another program to build a box to view something. They can use Nett Warrior and just build an app for that," Ruud said.

After being vetted by the Nett Warrior program, they will "get their certification with us as an integrated partner, and divest weight from the soldier as well, so you don't have to carry three different boxes to do three different things. You just have an application on Nett Warrior to do whatever for you," Ruud said.

Currently, platoon leaders can view live feeds from Army unmanned aerial vehicles such as Gray Eagle, Shadow and Hunter. Another application is enemy aircraft warning. If one is bearing down on a platoon's position, an alarm is sent through the smartphone.

Program executive office soldier came to the NIE exercise to test and evaluate a new call-for-fires application called "precision fires-dismounted. …

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