The Department of Defense has announced the DoD Mobile Device Strategy and Implementation Plan — a strategy to use mobile devices to swiftly share classified and protected information using the latest commercial technologies. Wireless voice, video and data capabilities are to be instituted across DoD by October.
“The Department of Defense is taking a leadership role in leveraging mobile device technology by ensuring its workforce is empowered with mobile devices,” said Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer in a press release.
“As today’s DoD personnel increasingly rely on mobile technology as a key capability enabler for joint force combat operations, the application of mobile technology into global operations, integration of secure and non-secure communications, and development of portable, cloud-enabled capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collaborate and share information rapidly.”
The plan focuses on improving three areas crucial to mobility: mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and mobile applications and works to guarantee these areas “remain reliable, secure and flexible enough to keep up with fast-changing technology,” the statement said.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is to have a key role in the plan’s implementation, which begins with a 90-day approval cycle for:
• Mobile devices and operating systems used across the department.
• Direction for the use of personally-owned Smartphones and tablets within DoD’s environment.
• The formation of a program office within DISA by fiscal 2014 to supervise the acquisition and use of mobile services to DoD.
“This is not simply about embracing the newest technology — it is about keeping the department’s workforce relevant in an era when information accessibility and cyber-security play a critical role in mission success,” Takai said.
Faster access to information and computing power from any location will be a major asset to military personnel in combat situations, according to the mobility strategy report. For instance:
• Field units can maneuver unfamiliar environments with real-time mapping and data overlay capabilities.
• Soldiers can identify friendly forces.
• Engineers can take pictures of mechanical parts for immediate identification and replacement ordering.
• Military health-care workers can diagnose injuries and remotely access lab results while away from the hospital.
• Warfighter support functions can be used to more quickly and responsively manage the business of the DoD.
During a press conference for the plan, Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, DoD deputy chief information officer, said the plan is also about creating standards so mobile device manufacturers will be able to develop systems that can easily mesh with DoD networks.
“We’re device agnostic, so what we’re looking to have is a family of devices that are available,” Wheeler was quoted by Defense News.
The announcement of the plan will serve to intensify the battle between BlackBerry, Apple and Android providers for DoD customers.
Currently, more than 600,000 DoD employees are mobile device users with the majority (about 470,000) owning BlackBerries. Approximately 41,000 use Apple’s iPhones or iPads and 8,700 use Android-powered devices.