Home » Gadgets and Gear » Army May Issue iPhones to New Recruits

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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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam September 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Does the Army really have the money in a time of defense budget cuts to go around buying iPhones for the use of the apps? I understand cutting the use of paper and all but really? And issuing smartphones that aren't exactly secure in a time where security leaks are a concern, not to mention how often people lose/break cell phones that they had purchased with their own money (The whole "its not mine so why should I care" thing comes to mind). All in all I think its a bad idea….

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raaka September 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Technically its easy to control technology …

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JSomm92 January 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Yeah, But what it seems that you may not know is that all of the Army TM's (Training Manuals) are all online anyways. It would save a ton in the amount of paper that a new recruit, and a ton in the long run to do that. With all of the manuals that were are issued when it comes to printing them all off, boxing, shipping,and delivering costs let alone fuel, and labor costs entailed at all of those levels. That would be a great idea. Less headaches, less paper, more happy soldiers.

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blight September 22, 2010 at 4:49 pm

At least they're not iPads.

And why the heck are we subsidizing Apple pro are bettducts again? What do they have to do with the army's missions? So you can play Angry Birds while on base? What're the odds that soldiers don't already have their own?

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blight September 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Grr, typos.

products*

bett was probably me erasing "do we have anything better to spend our money on" in all haste.

I agree that an iPhone is a seamless screen for interactivity, but wouldn't iPod touches be better for this? An interactive touch screen doesn't substitute for "learning by doing" hands on, and never will. Electronics can't take the place of hands on learning, not until we can download data into people's brains.

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Jacob Phillips September 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Proof positive that the Army has MONEY TO BURN, while guys like me have to buy our own office supplies.

Semper FIdelis

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Mark O'Connell September 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

This is part of the experiment to see if they can get the information in the recruits in a better shorter time. If so then they can tell if it is as cheep or cheeper in the long run for a better informed war fighter. You can't pull a huge book out to see how to make a Ghillie net. However you can use your phone and see a picture of what is should look like, what to use to make it, and how to use it.

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LCpl USMC August 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm

We can’t even afford to give every Marine a camelbak, and many m16s are double-issued since we don’t have enough, and the Army is giving out iphones to RECRUITS?!?!!?

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Thunder350 September 22, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Just don't hold the phone like you do a regular phone.. your signal will drop. If there gonna do this, get something that is worth a damn. Many more phones out there that are better, and cheaper. And also have the same (if not more) apps.

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blight September 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm

What the army wanted was a portable device that was seamless, intuitive and available off the shelf to cut costs.

However, reading about First Aid off the iPhone is bull. CPR classes still use dummies, not iPhone apps. That's no way to learn, especially when in your job may involve using these lifesaving techniques while being shot at. No chance at popping the iPhone in a warzone and making a quick check of the app.

If the military wants to go this route, the iPad would be a superior appliance. Bigger screen for serious reading or imaging. I bet military bases would already have Wifi, so the expensive 3G version is un-necessary. Of course, these things would probably get bought en masse and laundered into the hands of officers…or maybe that's where they will go after this experiment is terminated.

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Jeff Fraser September 22, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Make an actual military "phone". The iPhone is an unreliable piece of equipment and is completely unsuited for military use (even if it is just training), let alone actual civilian use.

And I wanna see SCARs and/or 416s in the hands of troops before I see iPhones.

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blight September 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm

The only reliable phone would probably have to be sat phones, unless the Army gets into the business of setting up antenna service in the field. Would they be using GSM or CDMA signals?

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Todd September 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I don't think that developing an actual military "phone" would be the best course of action here. The basic functions that they intend to use this device for (GPS, Foreign Language phrasebook) do not warrant this. In this time of runaway federal spending we want to maximize the use of Commercial of the Shelf (COTS) products in line with Secretary Gates cost savings initiatives.

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randall September 22, 2010 at 11:01 pm

android ftw!

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prometheusgonewild September 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Once you have one, you will wonder how you ever got along without it.
These phones are amazing. The Apps make it the universal computer buddy.
Keep track of anything, find anything, look up any information you need and it goes on and on.
I think it is a great idea.
As for in field use, one of the vehicles in the group could be a cell tower connecting people within a certain radius, then it could convert the information for long distance communication.
Like all things though, real world use will have to be ironed out for maximum efficiency, minimum clucterf%$k.
-Dennis
http://www.PrometheusGoneWild.com

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blight September 23, 2010 at 12:19 am

Disclosure: I have a 3GS; but I suspect only a few parts of the iPhone are what the Army is really looking for.

Read up on those A4A apps. Most of them are kind of meh,

New Recruit: Provides information for potential recruits. Features include military rank and insignia, Army news feeds, an Army physical fitness test calculator, and a Body Mass Index calculator.

(If you don't know this kind of stuff and can't be arsed to look it up on the internet…?)

Grid Nav: Allows users the ability to obtain accurate location data that is displayed in both angular and MGRS coordinates. The user can also convert between decimal degrees and DMS to MGRS format.

(Sounds useful)

go2MWR: Allows users to locate Morale, Welfare and Recreation assets, display the desired and relevant information, and scheduling the use of services.

Civil Affairs Phrasebooks: Civil Affairs related foreign language text and foreign language audio on Android devices. Four apps have been created, supporting Chinese (Mandarin), Kazakh, Korean, and Vietnamese. These apps have potential to help fill gaps in communication between US personnel and foreign local nationals, particularly in the absence of interpreters/linguists.

(Extremely useful, don't leave base without one…)

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George Bush September 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Can't wait for some idiot right-winger to blame this on Obama. :P

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blight September 23, 2010 at 12:20 am

Cheaper than building a new "Army Mobile Device". Considering the procurement hell of many platforms built for the military…

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Dean September 23, 2010 at 1:44 am

Now we're going to have Army soldiers
-texting while driving a tank
-chatting with their buddies in the next foxhole over
-checking up on the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit photos while standing guard duty
and
-taking videos of their fellow soldiers in the showers

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blight September 23, 2010 at 2:16 am

Hopefully using iPod touches and eliminating Wifi in Abrams tanks will address problem one and two. Application restrictions might do three, and removing the camera (doable, see iFixit) will be sufficient.

THere's always the concern that soldiers will wipe the phones, restore from a new username off of iTunes and bypass app restrictions, bringing about number three. But the iPhone is kind of small for that kind of thing…iPads on the other hand…

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Blue1 September 29, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Ok, well as a Tanker, first I can assure you there is no civilian WiFi on an M1A2. Second, soldiers already text while driving even without iPhones, I’m pretty sure all phones these days can txt, the iPhone did not revolutionize that feature. Third, soldiers already do all those things with normal phones, so what again are you trying to avoid. By the way, using an iPhone and running a tank range right now

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Jsmith September 23, 2010 at 7:01 am

GEN Chiarelli is proposing eliminating ammunition and weapons systems so Mark Hertling can buy cell phones for the troops? I'm glad I'm retired! The inmates are running the asylum.

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Chris Swan September 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm

i agree they are going to put all these manuals and training on a PHONE, that has a wireless and bluetooth connection, to a bunch of PRIVATES. what a waste of money and time since they will all get broken or lost the first time they are turned loose from adult supervision. i would of rather got a pay raise or a new uniform.

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blight September 23, 2010 at 8:25 am

Anybody notice the wedding ring? That makes two things this guy isn't bringing into the field…

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blight September 23, 2010 at 8:25 am

Correction: Nails makes me think its a woman.

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jsallison September 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

dadt

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ski September 24, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I Think people who are writing negative comments can't really see the positive major implications for a soldier and training. Just like the movie Matrix where Neo download an app to fly a helicopter. In the future apps will be transmitted directly to the brain once we are able to decode how the brain processess shapes. Dreams and ideas that have shaped our future to what it is today. These Iphones will save lives and can anyone put a price on a life. That soldier who didn't quite pick up as simple as it is to apply a tourniquet or even reading a map and heading towards enemy lines. Medics as oppose to Infantry are more proficient in certain aspects tailored to their title and that goes for all Titles. It's Like having a MagicUser/Cleric/Fighter as oppose to a Fighter.

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James Kesl May 25, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Seriously, are we at the Matrix level now. Hell no and with budget cuts we have better programs overall to spend money on. Screw phones for recruits, it is ridiculous. Lets focus on budget we have to work with, not what is decades, if not centuries in the future as far as technology goes.

Freaking ridiculous.

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Bo Bo the Clown September 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm

You can control micro UAV's to hover, stare and perch letting soldiers know if there is something a head of them. when soldiers happen to pull watch it can be used as a secondary form of an alarm because of motion detection or if that soldier falls asleep. You need to improvise and fix a Humvee that has just broken down and your out there. It can be used as a blue force tracker. Your in a situation where you need to perform improvised and /or medical treatment to save a life but you don't have that knowledge. As with anything there are pros and cons the pros out weigh the cons. It also puts everyone and I mean everyone on the same page. Your ready to attack the enemy not only do you know what's happening or is about to happen but so does your brass and that goes all the way to the top and across. The list goes on and if you never had a android or an iphone you shoudn't even comment.

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HOOAH !!!! September 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Are you seriouse???!!! this is complete bull…… nothing beats the hands on training and the responibilaty that is instilled with having to carry and keep track of equipment only needing to have a damn phone is a shame and is going to cut back on the training and leadership that is taught. granted death by power point sucks but it has its points ……integrity if you are sleepy get up go to the back and stand…… but being able to just read an app and your training is done come on…… the army is going to the PU$$!$

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wch66 September 29, 2010 at 12:39 am

Let me set this warning in stone: "Change for change's sake is completely wrong.'

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Lowman1812 September 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Wow, i mean they could give it to the USMC so we can upgrade our Tanks to A2's…or maybe SCARs for everyone or update the barracks from the 1940's…..We deal with scraps while the Hooahs throw money around like a bunch of gravel eating retards. Thanks DoD

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dcf October 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

this iphone thing is ********, i enlisted in the army for a challenge, not to have a phone during basic, im going infantry and im leaving in several days i will be very angry if i get issued one at basic, this isnt training a soldier its pathetic

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SIXEIGHTWHISKEY December 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

HOOAH

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LCpl USMC August 2, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Well, who ever told you the Army is a challenge lied to you.

Semper Fidelis

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Dakota October 10, 2010 at 6:45 am

"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."

…radical shift? Bwahhahahahahah…

OMG… that was funny. So much I think I shat myself.

LtGen Hertling,

Been to Afghanistan recently?

By Afghanistan, I mean anywhere OTHER than IJC, ISAF, BAF, MES or KAF?

Have you checked out what we are ACTUALLY doing over here?

Sadly PowerPoint rules both over here and in CONUS and there are _zero_ IPhone apps in theater in use by military systems.

Oh and talk about loss, theft and what not…

Joe's can not keep track of simple sh*t like their own ACU caps in training (and its got their damn name on it)… and over here we've got people who (no sh*t) are forgetting rifles and pistols in the port-a-johns at the GreenBean and MWR…

How long before that IPhone is lost, slipped out the gate and hacked by the bad guys?

What is the breakage and loss rate of these devices?

You want them to learn?

Give them blended learning by combining hard copy manuals with digital training available through computer labs in the barracks and classrooms that are thin client/server based with no outside internet access. No facebook, no myspace and no email.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do this and you guys are heading down the wrong path.

Regards,
~DA

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Guest October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Really? i mean this can be speculator to the beliefs of some who just wanna put the army down? i believe its horseshit

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Stephanie Bonds May 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm

If for no other reason than to be able to find you, I think it's worth the money. Commo is vital in all situations. How many lives could be saved if 1 man can call for backup in a fire fight? I'm a ham radio operator and was considered "gold" when I served in the 70s and 80s. Maybe if you all don't like the idea of phones, you should consider giving a copy of "Look Who's Talking" to all of your troops so they can get their ticket? Amateur radio gets through when there are no cell towers and they are often smaller than a cellphone. And you Marines who are complaining have no business doing so! You have the absolute BEST Medical Corpsmen in the military. Wouldn't you want them to be armed with commo when YOU get shot? Of course you do.

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blight September 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

No, my thought is just that it's a flash in the pan idea designed to lure people into the Army. "Hey, they have iPhones, lets enlist so we can get a signing bonus, a phone, the GI bill, VA benefits and get better pay than in the private sector, which isn't even hiring"

How hard is it for people to buy Rosetta Stone software to learn foreign languages that you need the phrasealator?

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Mastro September 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I agree- people don't know how much manuals cost.

Hopefully universities will adopt this approach soon- oh yeah- they like to squeeze students for money.

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ltwcharlie September 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Since the USAF folks cannot make a decision without first using their "Brick" to call their commander for permission to blow their nose – this would be valuable training device.
Us "Old Farts" understand leadership and decision making – something the USAF is lacking.

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blight September 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I suppose you're right, since a textbook is ~100 bucks and you can chew through a few in four years of undergrad. But that depends on the degree of discounting of the analog copy of the textbook. More often than not the cost is the IP. Just like the cost of a drug is not the production, but for the R&D…you are often paying for the intangibles when you buy a tangible.

Again, I wouldn't read a manual on an iPhone…

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Thunder350 September 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I'd like to know what college has you buying these cheap ass textbooks.. I know the ones around here are all over $170… and you got to buy about 6-7 books.. that's over $1000. Now unless my math is bad, that saves you alot of money. (and trees!) <3 technology.

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