Mark Kurlyandchik – May 24, 2011 8:22 AM
Issuing open invitation to developers, wants to include smartphones in the mix
“The most important thing I’ve learned this last year is that the sooner you get a new capability into the hands of a soldier out in an operating environment along with the engineer who developed it the sooner you can stop a dumb idea or advance a really good idea,” Maj. Gen. Keith Walker, head of Brigade Modernization Command, tells Defense News.
That’s the basic notion behind a push by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli to start testing new gadgets and technologies every six months, in places like New Mexico rather than the battlefields of Afghanistan.
The Defense News reports Chiarelli has sent an open invitation to the defense industry to send their latest devices to White Sands, New Mexico, where his service will begin testing them during a biannual exercise. The first Network Integration Evaluation, as its called, will be held in June.
Chiarelli isn’t limiting his invitation to large defense contractors and programs of record. Rather, the testing will be more inclusive; the invitation is open to all comers, and Chiarelli wants smartphones in the mix.
Chiarelli said that he was told smartphones shouldn’t be issued to soldiers in the battlefield because they would break. But once it happened, the opposite proved true. “I don’t have a scientific study but I know TRADOC issued 500 of them but the only one that was ever broken was a major who dropped it on a marble floor,” he told Defense News.
Smartphones appear to be on the minds of the U.S. Army lately. Last December, we reported that the Army was working on a program to issue a smartphone to every soldier. Widespread battlefield deployment of that program could occur as soon as this year.