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BlackBerry Still Dominates Pentagon Pockets

by Mike Hoffman on January 21, 2014

BlackBerryThe Pentagon can’t break their CrackBerry habit. Once the smartphone of choice, most of the nation and even most federal workers have stopped using BlackeBerries as their work phones years ago. But the U.S. military keeps plodding along with the BlackBerry.

Last week, the Defense Department said that Blackberry’s will make up 80 percent of the phones that will be used for a new program the military is starting that will actually make it easier to use one of the more popular iPhone and Samsung smartphone.

The issue has always been information security. The Pentagon viewed the BlackBerry as a more secure operating system and thus limited most troops and contractors to the BlackBerry. The Defense Information Systems Agency wants to open up more mobile devices to troops.

Announced last year, DISA started the DOD Mobility Implementation Plan and will release version 1.0 of the unclassified mobility capability on Jan. 31.

About 100,000 users will take part in the first version of the program and about 80,000 BlackBerries will be used by those service members and contractors. Another 1,800 will be using the iPad 3 and 4, iPhone 4S and 5, Samsung 10.1 tablets and Samsung 3S, and Motorola RAZR devices.

Currently, the military uses about 600,000 commercial mobile devices in operations and testing. That includes about 470,000 BlackBerry devices, 41,000 Apple platforms and 8,700 Android-based systems meaning that 90 percent of the mobile devices used by the military are BlackBerries. Pentagon officials expect those numbers to balance out as this program has more time to introduce more operating systems.

Over the next year, DISA will incorporate a mobile device management system, mobile application store, approved devices list, and supported cellular access among other mobile initiatives, according to a DISA statement. Agency officials are also constantly working to vet new applications and devices. Right now, DISA is inspecting 90 additional applications for approval.

DISA has also reached out to specific branches to help them migrate their smartphones and mobile devices like iPads over to the secure military mobile system. Agency officials are working with the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command and the Army’s Human Resources Command to make sure they are taking the right steps to getting their applications and devices on board.

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