Monday, April 20, 2009

iWar: Hope they have a Genius Bar in Kabul!

The military is going trendy! In line with Secretary Gates's plan to better prepare the US armed forces for a "different kind of warfare" (per the budget restructuring, RIP F-22), the military is using more iPod Touches and iPhones in combat zones. These devices, which require little training to use, aid with translation, video sharing, intelligence transfer, recon, and various other tasks in the field. (Not to mention easy accessibility to Twitter and Phone Saber!). With new applications hitting the App Store daily, for free or very reasonable prices, the iPod is a brilliant information resource and communication device.

Also in line with the budget cuts, iPods are relatively cheap ($229-399). Despite these advantages, the biggest issue I foresee with the iPods is maintenance issues. I will safely assume that there is no Apple store close to Iraq or Afghanistan. I have seen quite a few Pentagon men quite upset about the malfunctioning state of their iPod Touch in Virginia; think how frustrating that could prove in battle zones. Maybe an iAnger Management class is the solution?

A substantial advantage these handy gadgets may provide militarily is in translation. We are all familiar with the shoddy job of cultural training in the armed forces and disasters that may stem from linguistic misunderstandings. iPod Touch applications offer a quick and simple resource for brief translations, even the opportunity to contact a translator with rapid feedback (if wifi is available). The opportunities for new applications to swiftly address various other problems are endless. Alert geeks! Maybe those free App Store codes will turn into a defense contract or two. (Not to mention a little security for AAPL stock.)

Most notably, such portable devices are an important step into attaining full-fledged NetCentric Warfare. iPods and iPhones can easily be programmed to plug into the Global Information Grid , transferring vital intelligence and orders instantly to anywhere with access to the network. The US military may want to look into installing a fail-safe component, just in case one falls into the wrong hands.

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