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Marine Studies Smartphones in the Battlefield from Both Sides of the Fence

Dual-degree student Marine Corps Capt. Joshua Dixon answers questions from Prof. Don Gaver following his Cebrowski Institute Brown Bag session, Monday, Nov. 29, in Glasgow Hall. Dixon studied the application of smartphones in the battlefield from both a technological perspective as a Computer Science graduate, and an acquisition perspective as he nears completion of his studies for an MBA. Dixon presented the results of his efforts, and next steps, in how to optimize global and regional mobile communications and applications in the battlefield during the latest of the Cebrowski Institute¹s long-running series.

After completing a Computer Science (CS) degree six months early, Dixon asked for a six-month extension to then complete an MBA, now in his penultimate quarter. While his CS thesis dealt with delivering smartphone capabilities to the battlefield, his MBA thesis focuses on evaluating the cost associated with each of his six concepts of deploying various Smartphone communication architectures. ³At the moment each of the services use different contracts for service providers, differing handsets or mobile devices and various formats for secure voice communications,² said Dixon.

The question still stands ... What is the optimal solution for integrating the capabilities associated with typical smartphones into a secure and reliable wireless, ad-hoc, highly-mobile tactical military communications network? The Military Wireless Communications team, of which Dixon is a principal investigator, Has acquired $2.5 million in research funding from several sponsors and has collaborated with others who are working towards answering that very question.

Although his current investigations deal only with the narrow market of wireless communications, his systematic approach for tailoring user needs to handset systems dramatically reduces costs over time. Dixon adamantly notes that, in spite of tangled contractual methods, it is possible to get the best solution to troops whose lives depend on secure communications.

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