Pentagon Goes Device-Agnostic, Open to iOS & Android

Soldier iPhoneThe U.S. Department of Defense is either losing or gaining religion—depending on your viewpoint—and is abandoning its BlackBerry-only, top-down smart device approach in favor of a "device-agnostic" approach that will include iOS and Android.

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it was rolling out its Commercial Mobile Device Implementation Plan, an effort to get the military up to speed with technology that is useful and reliable for its soldiers.

In a statement, the military said, "The implementation plan focuses on improving three areas critical to mobility: mobile devices, wireless infrastructure, and mobile applications, and works to ensure these areas remain reliable, secure and flexible enough to keep up with fast-changing technology."

According to a Wired report, the Department of Defense is approaching the effort from a different direction. Rather than trying to design and implement a secure platform on its own, it has developed a set of guidelines and rules that it is unveiling to device makers.

“Instead of the government, or defense contractors supporting the government, getting an operating system and then doing all the reviews to lock it down,” John Hickey, mobility program manager for the Defense Information Systems Agency, said, “[our] concept now is: Here’s our security requirements to operate within DOD, you bring us the [Security Technical Implementation Guides] and we review it very quickly.”

Rather than issuing a device to soldiers, the Pentagon wants for its soldiers to be able to choose from an array of approved devices that will meet their needs.

“We’re device-agnostic,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, the Pentagon’s deputy chief information officer, told reporters. “What we’re looking for is a family of devices that are available depending on the operator. … And we’re going to continue to update as they update."

This represents a significant opportunity for Apple, Google, Samsung, and other device makers and platform providers. It's even possible that Nokia and Microsoft will get a chance to get some military business related to this effort.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.