The Army says it's like going from a flip phone to the iPhone 5. The 10th Mountain Division was picked to be the very first to work with a brand new fleet of vehicles that are networked, like a super version of 3G or 4G. Soldiers are now replacing old heavy radios with specially designed smartphones. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the Army says they're faster, cheaper and most importantly, safer.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "We know we're the best division in the Army, but we're soon going to be the most modernized."
The 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team welcomed a new fleet MRAPs, complete with a full wireless network.
"In many places, we're so far removed. We're using hand and arm signals and old FM communication much like we did in World War II," said Col. Walter Piatt.
From depending on line of sight and bulky old radios to smartphones. Every soldier gets one, allowing those on the ground to have direct and immediate contact with superiors via voice, text or video. It’s a big deal when that soldier is on the ground.
Piatt said, "Intel can be shared more readily and quicker. Now we know where we are, but we also know where reported enemy sightings are so now we can take the initiative and attack the attackers that were waiting in ambush for us."
"As I think about how we fight in 2005 and then being able to look to 2012, it's a tremendous leap forward in how we can communicate with every single soldier," said Col. Sam Whitehurst.
And in a time when the defense budget will certainly be slashed in the very near future, the Army says this technology, while carrying a multi-million dollar price tag, will actually save money in the future, replacing $12,000 radios with $500 phones.
"As we go back and start bringing soldiers back from Afghanistan, we're going to reset the Army and pick the things that we need to modify and modernize and go forward with an Army that's more capable with less soldiers," Brig. Gen. Dan Hughes said.
Hughes says this technology will be the first of its kind to work anywhere, in any terrain, which is key for any missions post Afghanistan, who knows where.
The 3rd BC- will be training on this new system for a few more months and will be ready to use it in combat by March. The 10th's 4th brigade at Fort Polk in Louisiana is also getting the system.