A few weeks ago, the U.S. Army announced that it selected Android for its future smartphone operating system. CNN.com Tech reports that the Army selected the “device agnostic” OS to power a specially designed mobile device that has yet to be released. The Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P Handheld, would be the first device developed under the Army’s effort to create a framework and suite of mobile apps. If implemented, such a device would enable warfighters to access key information and data on the ground – which could prove life-saving if in the midst of battle.

This is a great step forward in making smartphones a more ubiquitous tool for both military training and operations.  As Andrew Martin and Thomas Lin point out in a recent New York Times story titled “Keyboards First. Then Grenades.”, it’s important to reach soldiers in the mediums in which they are most comfortable.

Brig. Gen. Harold J. Greene has only to look around his house to realize the challenges the Army faces in engaging young soldiers. His children, he says, are always “buried in a cellphone or an iPad.” Greene, a senior official in the Army’s research and development engineering command, is among a cadre of high-ranking officials pushing for the military to embrace technologies that are already popular among consumers, such as smartphones, video games and virtual worlds. The goal is to provide engaging training tools for soldiers who have grown up using sophisticated consumer electronics and are eager to incorporate them into their routine. At a time of shrinking budgets, these tools are viewed as relatively inexpensive supplements to larger, costlier training equipment while also providing a surprisingly realistic training experience.

Troops are required to maintain a certain level of knowledge off of the battlefield, but often they are stationed out of town or even out of the country. So, what’s the solution for soldiers whose “home base” is always changing? Blackboard believes that it is mobile training.  In fact, we often work with military organizations to provide key solutions. Should the Army provide its troops in the field with mobile devices equipped with apps to aid in tactical operations, we believe adding mobile training to the mix would certainly empower soldiers on the move.

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