Go to war? There’s an app for that.

I’m a low tech guy. My phone makes calls. Barely. But smart phones are all over the place, and the iPad is quickly becoming ubiquitous. Not surprisingly, a lot of smart people have figured out that there is potential for a lot of cheap, simple apps that can support the warfighter.

The SoldierEyes Common Operating Picture, for instance, is like a mini Blue Force Tracker, explains Evan Cormin, who works on the project: a real-time way for soldiers to monitor where friendly forces are at any given time, represented by little blue boxes. And not just friendlies: Plug in an enemy’s position, and the cloud shares it with anyone else running SoldierEyes, whether out on patrol or back at the command post. Its GPS components allow soldiers to use the map for navigation while they see where their friends and foes are.

Load Augmented Reality, another SoldierEyes sub-app, ditches the map. Instead, it uses your handheld’s camera to give you a picture of what’s in front of you — but with the colored boxes of friendlies and enemies in position on the screen. The idea is make sure that soldiers getting out of their vehicles don’t lose a sense of their surroundings once the Humvee doors swing open and they aren’t behind a computer screen anymore.

These are exactly the kinds of things our troops need, and they are being invented without a multi-billion dollar, multi-year development program that gives the OSD staff a chance to build empires. Moar, please. Faster, please.

6 thoughts on “Go to war? There’s an app for that.”

  1. Outstanding. I remember reading in good old Soldier of Fortune in the late 1970s about Army National Guard units that were suddenly using hand-held calculators to compute firing information because some young Guardsman figured out it was faster than what the Army had given them to use, completely without involving a multi-million dollar contract and without a blue-ribbon commission from the puzzle palace. Sometimes it really helps to leave the smart boys in the field to figure out how to solve a problem.

  2. Well, the point is kind of the opposite. The institutionalized process for procurement is so broken, troops would never see this stuff.

    1. So… what? Troops are supposed to buy the good stuff out of their own paychecks? That might be okay for a better pair of boots or bling for the M4, but electronics gear too?

  3. Gaige, these apps were sought by the Army, but outside the normal institutional procurement process.

    The normal process where the Army determines a need, generates an RFP and then spends a billion dollars setting up a special office of apps in the Pentagon is broken.

    But saying to industry “Hey, what can you guys do with an iPad?” comes up with good stuff dirt cheap overnight.

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