Pentagon Goes Device-Agnostic, Open to iOS & Android

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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.

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The first question we had was how Google and/or its various Android OEMs would want to play this. The value of Android to Google is for Android smartphones (and Google' iOS apps) is to report back to Google everything you do.

We strongly doubt that this would be copacetic with the military. Would Google be willing to offer up a version of Android purpose-built for the military that doesn't report back to Google? Maybe, but with current licensing models, Google's OEMs might benefit from that, but it wouldn't do Google much good.

Note that selling the military devices made by Motorola Mobility changes that equation.

At the same time, would Apple be willing to do the same thing? Probably. Apple makes its money from hardware sales, not from slicing and dicing user profiles and selling the info to the highest bidder.

Apple certainly collects data from us, but it seems to us that providing a secure, locked-down platform for the military would be easier for Apple (or Microsoft) than Google.

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Lee Dronick

That is a great graphic Bryan!

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks, Lee. I appreciate it. smile


Am I the only one thinking the graphic is, how do I put this, rather…um…Freudian?

Lee Dronick

Good thing that they didn’t use a picklehaube style of helmet.


Sometimes a helmet is just a helmet.

I’m just glad they get to pick their tool!

Lee Dronick

Good one Ctopher, we do enjoy our wordplay smile


Yes we do Lee, but you’ve got me beat. I never heard of a “pickelhaube” before your comment.

Your knowledge of the trivial is significant!

Bryan Chaffin

Am I the only one thinking the graphic is, how do I put this, rather…um…Freudian?

I don’t know what you penis.

Lee Dronick

“Yes we do Lee, but you’ve got me beat. I never heard of a “pickelhaube” before your comment.

Your knowledge of the trivial is significant!

I am a history buff and retired military so uniforms and such are of interest to me. Also I have long been advocating that our military adopt more 19th Century looking dress uniforms, our current ones are rather bland, Marines not withstanding,



I agree with Lee; great graphic. My brain did not fit this into any pattern resembling human anatomy until geoduck called attention to it; now I can’t help but see it.

Damn you, geoduck.

Lee, nice pickup on the venerable pickelhaube. It’s a good thing that this article was about the military, and not, say, the culinary industry. Can you imagine the comments if Bryan had topped that thing with a toque?

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