Zit Seng's Blog

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SAF Needs To Embrace Smartphones Too

_DSC1436I’ve read recently how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States are developing smartphones for their soldiers. Another article shares how smartphones can help save the lives of soldiers. It’s not surprising, isn’t it? Most of us have more sophisticated technology on us, throughout the entire day, than our soldiers typically do.

Welcome to the age of smartphones. I’m happy the US recognises the usefulness of smartphones. Considering that the US deploys resources across the globe, bringing long a telco infrastructure to support smartphone use could be a small logistics challenge. But clearly, the smartphone technology is important.

Then I thought about our Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Yes, I know we also send troops overseas, both for exercises as well as real-life support missions. I don’t know how capable our SAF is to bring along a 3G/4G mobile phone infrastructure along for its overseas deployment.

However, our SAF also does a lot of work in Singapore. I presume it will be alright to use SingTel’s infrastructure. Shouldn’t our SAF then embrace the use this ready technology to make its work more efficient and effective?

I’ve lost touch over what the regulations are, now, concerning the smartphone screen sizes that the SAF permits into its camps. Considering how smartphones could help soldiers be better soldiers, perhaps the archaic rules should just be dropped entirely. Smartphones of any size, including phablets, and make that tablets as well, should just become standard tools of any SAF soldiers.

The issues faced by US soldiers are, pretty much I imagine, similar to what Singapore soldiers have too. Smartphone maps, for example, are so much more convenient than dealing with paper maps. I’m pretty sure the real-time collaboration tools that are made possible with online connectivity will greatly facilitate operations and increase productivity of our soldiers.

After smartphones, the next smart thing to get into will be wearables. Google Glass, for example, will give real-life soldiers two-way audio-video feeds to their commanders, just like how we see in movies. Other wearables can provide information on health and physical well-being.

This is an exciting new era for the armed forces to keep up with smart mobile technology. In the meanwhile, I think at the platoon level, soldiers could benefit from a simple WhatsApp group to disseminate instructions!

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