The U.S. Army has teamed with the nation’s top-level digital security agencies to establish a secure wireless network to protect the smartphones service leaders want to get into soldiers’ hands.
The National Security Agency’s commercial products division contacted Michael McCarthy, director of operations for the Army’s Brigade Modernization Command’s Mission Command Complex, to ask how they could help.
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” McCarthy said at the C4ISR Journal Conference.
Army leaders have met with the NSA and the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Information assurance remains the greatest challenge to the Army’s pursuit to put a smartphone in every soldier’s hand.
McCarthy cautioned that the answer doesn’t necessarily lie in the handsets themselves, but rather in the infrastructure and network the Army establishes to support the phones.
The Army is testing a host of different infrastructure solutions, both traditional networks and those that use a radio and frequency hopping infrastructure to protect information sent to the phones.
McCarthy said he’s especially interested in the frequency hopping network built by xG Technology, based in Sarasota, Fla. During a test, a military jammer shut down all of the Army’s communications systems except for the xG network, he said.
Soldiers and engineers will test the xG network as well as other network systems at the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) at Fort Bliss, Texas, and at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in 2012. McCarthy said the NIE has been valuable tool in getting smartphones in soldiers’ hands in simulated combat exercises.
“We’ve been able to get immediate feedback from these soldiers at what works and what doesn’t,” McCarthy said.