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Army May Issue iPhones to New Recruits

by christian on September 22, 2010

In an effort to reach a more gadget-savvy youth market and cut down on old-school dead tree manuals, the Army could begin issuing iPhones to new recruits as both an incentive (as if they need one in this economy) and to use during basic training and beyond as a learning tool.

According to Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the top officer in charge of Army basic training, the service is making a radical shift away from Power Points and into iPhone apps.

So far the Army has issued a battalion’s worth of iPhones to basic trainees in a preliminary study to see if smart phone delivery of training material works better with this generation of recruits.

We’ve got a pilot program where we’re issuing these things to Soldiers in basic training. We’ve go this thing called A4A — apps for the Army – where we’re putting everything we have on an application, like the Soldier’s Blue Book. … It lists everything a kid needs to know, not only in writing — like the Soldier’s creed — but you can listen to it.

We’ve got apps like first aid, values apps, physical training on here — this literally is almost as good as CrossFit.

Late this summer, the Army announced the winners of the A4A contest, with 15 appschosen for smartphones, including a “telehealth mood tracker” and a disaster relief app that ties in with Google Earth to track damage and humanitarian needs.

Hertling said at a breakfast with DC-area defense reports (that we attended) his colleague in charge of Army accessions, Lt. Gen. Ben Freakley, is into the idea of issuing iPhones to new recruits. He added that some old-school grey hairs were worried that the recruits would fail to show up on their ship date and take the phone anyway.

But a young guy told me, ‘wait a minute, you can’t steal it. It’s got a geo-locator so you can track it down or shut it off and the phone’s no good.’

Hertling was then interrupted when he put his iPhone 3G back in his arm pocket and the Paper Toss app was still playing…

Grey hair indeed…

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