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Constant Connectivity for our Guardians Abroad

23 Feb

*I originally posted this to the blog my technology research seminar maintains.

Filmmakers and authors focusing on recreating modern military actions are about to lose one of the more romantic aspects of the genre: the classic love letters.

Thanks to social networking, low cost services such as Skype, and smartphones, troops abroad are now able to keep in communication with their loved ones at home on a regular basis. Psychologist Barabara Van Dahlen Romberg accurately describes this phenomenon as “a mixed blessing.”

I believe my table does an adequate job of summing up the implications of this newfound connectivity on a personal level, so I’ll turn to a different—but nonetheless related—topic: the integration of smartphones into the military through an Army program called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications, or CSDA. Several phases of this program have already been enacted as students at Fort Lee, Virginia and Fort Sill, Oklahoma are already testing the phones for the war zone (Source).

One of the defining characteristics of the United States’ army is its positive attitude towards technology and its proven track record of incorporating these tools into its strategy. There’s no doubt that we are the most technologically advanced army in the world, just look at how the 1990-1991 Gulf War turned out. We have the security afforded to us by our armed forces abroad and at home to thank for the fact that we are still considered the safest country to invest in despite recent economic uncertainty, and our advanced equipment and weaponry play no small part in that achievement.

But let’s get back to business.

We have already seen some impressive combat applications with respect to our implementations of smart phones specifically. Take the fact that military drones can be controlled remotely via iPhone (Source). Other areas currently being explored are a secure network for iPhones and Androids so that they could be used on the field as an effective medium of communication, a software portal available for troops to download relevant applications, and applications which can be used to track down both enemies and friendly forces live on the battlefield (Source).

According to one of my sources, field tests are planned for February 2011. ArmyTimes, however, reports that while there is nothing definitive, the initiative is likely to begin with the highest ranked Army staff members.

One of the problems I foresee is that of uninterrupted service in hostile territory such as Iraq, but I doubt that there isn’t already some sort of solution for this.

It took me a few minutes to grasp the true implications of this news, but now, as I sit back and ponder the scope of events, I realize the possibilities truly are endless. Dialing in your coordinates into your smartphone as friendly planes prepare for aerial bombardments, ejected pilots enabling the GPS tracking on their phones to inform those back at command, and perhaps direct control for artillery barrages by select troops on the field. Granted, I’m sure anyone more knowledgeable of military matters could point out that all of the ideas I just proposed already exist through other technology. Alright, sounds great, but what sort of ideas could the military expert who just corrected me come up with?

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Albert Einstein.

“When a new invention promises to be useful, it ought to be tried.” Thomas Jefferson.

Pros

Cons

Higher troop morale.

Distraction: Angry Birds during combat = no bueno.

Peace of mind for those at home (unless disaster befalls).

Distraction: Worried about issues at home while on the battlefield.

Perhaps more incentive for others to join the military now that there’s an alternative to writing letters.

Extreme cases of suicide due to the breakdown of long-distant relationships.

Fewer cases of depression, desertion, etc.

A different kind of anxiousness for those at home.

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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Business/Technology

 

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