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Army to Release 'Digital Rucksack,' Other NCO Apps

Maj. David Vodarick peruses the Army Training Network on his computer tablet. (Army/Mike Casey)
Maj. David Vodarick peruses the Army Training Network on his computer tablet. (Army/Mike Casey)

The U.S. Army this week plans to release three new apps to help soldiers navigate non-commissioned officer professional military education.

The apps, due out Wednesday, will allow soldiers to download tools they will need for different schools on their smartphones and tablets, Training and Doctrine Command's Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport told an audience of command sergeants major at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting on Monday.

The move is part of the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development System the service launched last year.

The Digital Job Book app will feature critical individual tasks that all proponents have identified, Davenport said.

"What is really important about it is [it] allows organizations -- commanders and sergeants major -- to add up to 10 tasks that are specific to your organization so that you can battle track it," he said. "We have run a couple of pilots for it, and we really think it is going to improve battle tracking what our soldiers need to be trained on."

The Digital Rucksack app is designed to work with the tablets and smartphones soldiers bring into the classrooms, Davenport said.

"It's for our soldiers who come in with their tablets and their phones, and they hit a QR code and it puts all the material that they are going to need," Davenport said.

"And much like iTunes, if you don't want to carry that manual on your tablet, you can uncheck it and it goes to a cloud. And then you get ready to do some type of training and you want to use that reference material ... you recheck it and [it] re-populates your tablet or your smart phone."

The Army Career Tracker app will focus on key efforts in the self-development domain, such as experience, education and credentialing. It will include distance learning for Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education 1 and 2.

Army leaders hope distance learning will help identify talent and start getting non-commissioned officers into National Defense University, Davenport said.

The apps will be released Wednesday at Warriors Corner on the show floor at AUSA, Davenport said.

"We think that they are really going to help us connect soldiers and organizations to leader development," he said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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