I’m sure that when most people think of the US Special Forces communicating in the field we imagine all kinds of cool special gadgets specially made for them, and costing millions of dollars.
What we don’t think of though is that they might actually be running not quite off the shelf smartphones. More specifically Google Android based smartphones but that apparently is just the case according to a post by Spencer Ackerman at the Danger Room blog.
The Army is 20 years and a half-billion dollars into a star-crossed effort to build custom communications and digital-mapping gadgets for its soldiers. Special Operations Command, on the other hand, is taking a simpler approach: They’re planning to use Android phones.
Last week, the SOCOM asked coders to create a suite of applications for keeping commandos linked up while they’re out on missions. The software should include chat functions, file transfers, video display and “multi-touch whiteboarding aka John Madden tool.”
SOCOM calls it the Tactical Situational Awareness Application Suite, or TactSA, and it has to work in low-connectivity areas — the middle-of-nowhere places you’d expect to send the military’s most elite troops. It’s got to be peer-to-peer, encrypted “at the application level” and able to recover from “network outages and substantial packet loss.”
I can just see the logo now – an Android robot with an army helmet and night vision goggles.