iPads are becoming as much a part of an IDF soldier’s toolbox as protective gear and weapons.

Picture a commander on the ground. In one hand, he carries an M16. In the other–an iPad. With the swipe of a finger, he shares and receives visual, real-time intelligence. When he spots a target, he can instantly relay its location to a pilot above who, in turn, can neutralize it.

“We are looking to close the loop between sensor and shooter,” explains Colonel Yariv Nir, Head of the C4I Cyber Operations Department. The unit has made leaps in digitizing the IDF by creating a single, integrated wireless network for the entire military. “There is no such thing as a mission that’s exclusive to the navy, air force or ground forces,” explains Col. Nir. “They always need to work in sync and see the same picture.”

Gone are the days when commanders in the field relied solely on radio waves or print maps; today, they use IPads and other cutting-edge devices to learn where enemy forces lie, which buildings are rigged with explosives or tunnels, and where friendly forces are stationed.

Operation Protective Edge

Operation Protective Edge marked the first operation in which various divisions in the IDF utilized the new network to carry out missions. For example, on July 8, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel near Zikim. An IDF field observer detected the raid, and immediately shared live footage of it on the network. The feed was instantly accessible to the air force and navy, allowing them to coordinate a response and thwart the attack.

IDF Humanitarian Mission to Nepal

In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, an IDF humanitarian mission promptly set up a field hospital with a satellite enabled Wi-Fi cloud. IDF physicians in Nepal were able to communicate and consult with their counterparts in Israel via the integrated network, which allowed them to provide the highest quality care to patients. Likewise, “IDF search and rescue specialists in Nepal used the network to locate victims of the earthquake,” explains Col. Nir.

Outlooks on the Future

Mobile apps, Col. Nir explains, hold the key to “optimizing every aspect of an operation.” In the future, “an algorithm will instantaneously calculate which shooter has the best angle, or which weapon should be used in a particular situation.” In a rapidly digitizing world, the IDF remains at the forefront in developing the technology that will keep its borders–both physically and virtually–safe from attack.

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