Smartphones are on the frontline. Modernizing combat operations with Android tech and the WinTAK app
As the portal Defence One reported, American soldiers are often seen using their phones during exercises. However, this is beneficial since these phones have an application known as WinTAK installed. The software bears similarities to the mainstream messaging platform Slack and is used for managing battlefield operations. During exercises in the Louisiana forests, soldiers get hands-on experience with this software, which is aimed at modernizing battlefield command and control.
Smartphones as part of a soldier's gear
It's becoming increasingly common to see soldiers with smartphones attached to their bulletproof vests in tactical cases. The satellite map feature in the app enables them to mark enemy positions, keep contact with each other, and command posts through text or voice messages.
The WinTAK application lets soldiers mark both the locations of their own troops and enemy forces on a tactical map. Doing so reduces the risk of fratricide, a situation all too familiar to the Russians during the conflict in Ukraine. The software features a user-friendly and understandable interface.
Ukrainians already employ a similar system, known as "Kropyva", on their battlefields. It's a tactical combat control system that aids in distributing tasks across varying levels, from battalions to companies, platoons, and even individual units. The system can also control reconnaissance drones. Like its US counterpart, it can be installed on any Android device. However, one Ukrainian soldier cautions that if captured, such a device could provide valuable intelligence to an enemy. Nevertheless, it can always be remotely locked if interception is suspected.
A leaner, more mobile command post
The primary aim of implementing software like WinTAK is to streamline the bulky command posts that are susceptible to missile and drone attacks. Connecting a smartphone to a remote projector over Wi-Fi allows maps to be readily displayed on simple surfaces like tent sheets.
Having crucial tactical information on the smartphone screen, rather than printed maps or documents, is more convenient, mobile, and durable. In field conditions, physical documents are easily damaged, while smartphones in protective cases are much more resistant to water damage. However, paper doesn't require a battery and isn't affected by potential EMP pulses. Consequently, while smartphones may become prevalent for their convenience, printed maps and documents are far from becoming obsolete.