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Army Testing iPhones for Comms -- But Apple Might Lose Out

Our boy Colin Clark reports that the Army is looking at using smart phones like the iPhone the Droid for communications and other tasks netted in with its secure comms networks in the field.

It's an awesome story that shows how innovative the Army can sometimes (surprise) be...

"They built, among other apps, one for processing detainees after hearing from an 82nd Airborne trooper that he regularly spent three to four hours to process detainees. That did not include the time he spent moving them from the field to a FOB or operations center where he could do the processing.

I tried the app out. It’s simple. Open it and there’s a button to use the iPhone camera to snap a shot of Osama bin Laden’s new driver. Another button allows you to grab a quick fingerprint. And there are fields to note exactly where, when and in what conditions the detainee was seized. If the smartphone was connected through a secure mobile Internet, that information could easily be shared with a Tactical Operations Center or with intelligence officers through something like the Army’s FBCB2 system.

Another promising app would be one for precision fires, Army and Boeing officials said. Imagine a smartphone in the hands of a Special Forces operator or a squad leader. The fight is in close, making a bombing run problematic or there aren’t any air assets available. The trooper uses the targeting app, feeds the data to the Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative, the result of an urgent needs request from soldiers in Afghanistan, and wipes out a Taliban squad or sniper without killing or wounding civilians. Of course, that targeting data could also be fed to aircraft or even a Prompt Global Strike weapon for a strike on a High Value Target like Mullah Omar."

But don't go jailbreaking your iPhone 4 and spooling up the Rock Band game just yet. According to Clark, Apple's driving a hard bargain with Army contractor Boeing on this program, charging a setup fee of $200 per app they want to use for the DoD-type stuff. The Droid is more attractive since it's an open architecture, but everyone knows the iPhone rocks the Droid out of the water.

Wonder if Boeing can drive an even harder bargain with Apple? But we all know how strange Jobs can be. Maybe he doesn't want a company like Apple associated with killing bad guys. But hey, if Patagonia can do it, can't Apple?

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