Codebreaker

Soldiers prefer Android

John Moe Nov 1, 2010

For the last 20 years, the US military has been trying to build a new custom communications gadget system for soldiers in the field. It’s cost half a billion dollars so far. But now the Strategic Operations Command unit of the army is saying screw it, we’ll just use Android phones.

Last week, the SOCOM asked coders to create a suite of applications for keeping commandos linked up while they’re out on missions. The software should include chat functions, file transfers, video display and “multi-touch whiteboarding aka John Madden tool.” SOCOM calls it the Tactical Situational Awareness Application Suite, or TactSA, and it has to work in low-connectivity areas — the middle-of-nowhere places you’d expect to send the military’s most elite troops. It’s got to be peer-to-peer, encrypted “at the application level” and able to recover from “network outages and substantial packet loss.”

So they’re bypassing a lot of Pentagon bureaucracy and calling on the free market to build software better, faster, cheaper.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.