Close combat: there's now an iPhone app for that

The iPhone goes to war, driven by a soldier's ingenuity.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Thanks to the ingenuity of a US soldier, the iPhone has gone to war.

Harry Sanna, in an article posted at CBS News, reports how a US soldier, responding to a rocket attack at his forward operating base in Afghanistan, used his iPhone, with an app called "Tactical Nav" to respond.

"As the base's artillery began its bombardment of the area where the rocket was launched, one soldier stood on scene equipped with nothing more than his Apple iPhone. Capt. Jonathan Springer, a 31-year-old artillery specialist with the 101st Airborne and self-described Apple fanatic, is about to launch Tactical Nav, an app for Apple devices that, among other functions, assists soldiers in mapping, plotting and photographing waypoints on a battleground and conveying coordinates to supporting units."

A remarkable part of this story is that Capt. Springer did not wait for such a capability to percolate through the Pentagon bureaucracy. He put up his own money -- tens of thousands of dollars -- and worked with a programmer to make the Tactical Nav app a reality.  He hopes to make it available though Apple's App Store within the month.

The Tactical Nav app "incorporates a compass, camera and a gridded map reference system to accurately pinpoint specific locations down to a few feet and relay that information to other users linked in." The app can be used to direct artillery fire on enemy positions or call in helicopter support for injured soldiers.

Of course, a concern is that these relatively low-cost and ubiquitous technologies will also be adopted by the other side. But the important thing is maintaining the upper hand in innovation.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards