For the soldiers, the smart phones have already begun to unleash torrents of ingenuity, with some designing new soldier-friendly applications, such as links to the video feed of the base security camera.
For the Army, the smart phone pilot program points to a culture shift that would not only put new streams of intelligence into the hands of soldiers in the field but also give them the chance to evaluate that data – blurring the lines between officers and those they command. And it is sending shivers though the defense industry, which has long had a monopoly on providing military technology…
That brings McCarthy to what he thinks is perhaps the biggest advantage. “How do you provide the best technology you can afford? Afford – that’s a key term,” McCarthy says. “In the past, we’d go to industry and say, ‘This is what we want.’ But that was a lot more expensive.”
By contrast, if you buy commercially available equipment, the mobile-phone industry pays for the research and development costs, not the military.