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The End User Device

Already the techno websites are making much hay of the Army’s move to a new End User Device that will, most assuredly, wipe the notion of what was Land Warrior/Nett Warrior from our collective bad memories. By removing 70% of the weight from the Soldier, the End User Device is simultaneously enhancing the capability of the system as a whole.

What has tongues wagging is that, thankfully, the Android-based systems currently being evaluated are not phones. That’s right. As PEO Soldier, BG Camille Nichols stated at yesterday’s media roundtable, they are NOT 3G devices. Instead, the Army will connect these End User Devices to the Rifleman’s Radio variant of the Joint Tactical Radio System or JTRS. It is pronounced “jitters” as in, that radio system that is still in development hell after 15 years gives me the JTRS. At any rate, the Rifleman’s Radio segment of JTRS actually works and much better than its predecessors the PRC 126, 127 or God forbid 68 (if you are old enough). Plus, it handles data pretty well which is critical for a system like this.

Why no 3G you might ask? Simple, it’s all about the infrastructure, or lack thereof. Oddly enough, we rarely fight in places with a nice, new 3G (or better) network in place. And even if it is there, the bad guys are using it so we have to knock it out in order to disrupt their Command & Control. Sure, there are new portable mobile networks being developed, but they are still just phone networks that rely on switches. A radio on the other hand does not. Radios can talk to other radios without a switch and if a redundant mobile network goes down, radios continue to Soldier on. Yes, we know that a cellphone uses a radio. Unfortunately, it requires a complex infrastructure to work. Like it or not, the Rifleman’s Radio is the key here.

This strategy can also be cheaper. If a newer End User Device is approved you aren’t stuck with that pesky contract. Instead, you just go out and buy the new one. Likewise, if we upgrade radios there’s no need to replace everything.

And then, there’s that whole accreditation issue. How do you keep the data and access to the network safe safe from the enemy? That’s the current long pole in the tent, working out the security for the device. But, we are very pleased to hear, that the Army gets it. Unfortunately, those writing about it don’t seem to.

Most of the comments flying around the interwebs about this issue are confounded about why we can’t just go buy the latest ‘Droid, let the troops upload some apps, and go kick ass. That’s because those commenting know two things about warfighting. That’s “Jack”, and you can guess the other one. What’s worse, they don’t seem to have much of a grasp on telecommunications either.

So, big points here:
Army looking at Android based tablet or handheld devices.
Army is not going 3G with the End User Device.
Mobile Devices require a network, networks don’t exist in places we tend to fight.
Consequently, radios are not going away.

Discuss amongst yourselves…

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9 Responses to “The End User Device”

  1. sal says:

    Sounds like a job for the GD300.

  2. Administrator says:

    Cue music…

  3. Administrator says:

    Sal,

    Did you write that sucker up?

  4. sal says:

    I can’t help it if I’m witty :)

  5. Milidroid says:

    Being the only blog entirely dedicated to this topic albeit not entirely in the information loop yet, I think we’ve been beating on the ignorant commentators on a few blogs that assume the military would be using phones while on the battlefield on existing networks, a ridiculous notion.

    I can’t say I think that leaving out the option to communicate over a proprietary cell net is a wise decision, maybe for initial technology being fielded and until modular networks are ready for prime time but having dual capability should be the end goal IMO.

    I’ll save final opinion after reading the rest of the info I can absorb.

  6. somthingfunny says:

    In the UK the blue light services pretty much have this already ,I dont think its ideal for the battle field yet for those reasons stated above but they do have the ability to comunicate via the ordanary mobile network ,then if that gets shut down they can keep a dedicated incripted network going ,and if all that fails they can communicate “point to point” from hand set to hand set !

  7. bushman says:

    Heh, UK police uses TETRA standard trunking radio (by Motorola), this technology is close to mobile phones than to analog radio, but it’s still not using regular GSM network (but it could have gateways to regular network), only dedicated infrastructure. And, yes, TETRA terminals could use fall-back p2p mode when base station is unavailable.

  8. FormerSFMedic says:

    This stuff goes over my head quite a bit. I think that’s a good point to make though. Why all the need for overly complicated solutions? End User Device + JTRS + secure mobile network + loads of battlefield apps = user friendly communications system for the modern warfighter. It’s great that those dialed into this tech have all these cool complex solutions, but as a former warfighter on the ground, I just want something simple that allows me and my team to be more lethal on the battlefield. It’s the over thinking aspect of Nett Warrior that killed it. Come on Army! Give us “stupid” soldiers something that makes a difference and quit trying to change the world!

  9. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I wonder how much time and dollars could have been saved had Nett Warrior just started with a MIL rugged ARM based solution? The ARM based solution could have hosted Android if that is what everyone wants to develop against. The program basically wasted years of development on a desktop based system just to give up and buy COTS ARM devices in the end. Now these COTS devices need to be rugged… Here we go again!