After Iraq debut, handhelds get another test

After Iraq debut, handhelds get another test

This summer, the Army will continue testing ruggedized wireless devices that some soldiers used in Iraq to stay connected.

In August, the First Brigade of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment will experiment with 40 handhelds computers and 10 notebook PCs, each with Global Positioning System and communications software, at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Commanders Digital Assistant works across a wireless LAN under the IEEE 802.11b standard. The network connections have a 300-meter radius, which stretches even further across military radios that act as relay devices. Soldiers can also use the wireless devices as radio themselves, employing voice over IP.

General Dynamics C4 Systems Inc. of Taunton, Mass., a business unit of General Dynamics Corp., provided the Army with the Commander Digital Assistant devices and software.

In Iraq, the Second Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division relied on the devices to find allied forces on a GPS map and to send status reports via text messages, said Maj. Brian Cummings, an assistant product manager at the Army's Program Executive Office, Soldier.

'With problems on the battlefield, 80 percent of it is: 'Where are you, where are my leaders, and what do my leaders want me to do?' ' Cummings said. 'This tool answers those three questions.'

The follow-up tests this summer will put into practice some of the form and battery changes that soldiers suggested from Iraq'and, Cummings said, ultimately tell the Army whether this technology should be deployed to soldiers throughout the service. 'We'll learn a lot this summer.'

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