The United States Army anticipated that both Androids and iPhones will make fine companions for soldiers and decided to put smart-phones in their hands in 2010. Nearly six years later, it upgraded its fleet of Android phones, replacing them with iPhones.
The switch to the iPhone 6, according to reports, came after the US Army Special Operations Command found its “Android Tactical Assault Kit” slow, glitchy and prone to freezing. Now, the US army is considering equipping its troops with iPads, kindles, nooks and mini-projectors.
But in India, smart-phones seem to have become a headache for the military and paramilitary forces. A recent video that has surfaced on social media, shows two Army jawans smashing mobile phones of their colleagues with concrete blocks as ordered by an instructor. The instructor—who is wearing a white T-shirt, knickers and sports shoes—can be heard admonishing the jawans as they dressed in uniforms stand to attention, in the 41 second video.
Though the date and source of the video clip is not known, it appears to have been shot with a camera phone.
The year 2017 witnessed a barrage of video clips featuring soldiers—who accuse their officers of exploitation and corruption, making rounds on the social media. Despite assurances by the Ministry of Defence and Home Ministry, the issues of jawans remain largely unresolved, according to videos released by the disgruntled soldiers.
“The Army Chief claims that a mechanism is being built up so that jawans can post their problems through internet. Army set up a WhatsApp number for soldiers to register their complaints directly to the Army Chief. But this video tells the ground reality,” posted Veteran Jawan, a Facebook page dedicated to the issues of soldiers serving military and para-military forces.
“The cell phones being smashed in the video were purchased by jawans from their own hard-earned money. This was the only medium available to them for keeping in touch with their families back home,” the post that mocks ‘Digital India’ reads, adding, “Which country are we living in? Are we Indian citizens? Do we live under Taliban regime?”
Prakash P Srivastava commented on the post: “Very shamelessly the mobiles of jawans are being broken. What about officers. This discrimination is not justifiable.”
“An organisation which cannot trust it's soldiers can’t perform well at war. The cell phones could have been deposited at a safer place and handed over to the jawans when they proceed on leave. Everyone has to understand that mobile phones have become a necessity in present times. We need better education for the soldiers on cyber security and possible breach of security while using smart phones,” Debadatta Lenka, another Facebook user, said reacting to the post. “One must understand that this video is being watched by everyone across the nation and the globe and hence may discourage youth from choosing a career in the force. Country wants brave soldiers and at the same time smart and tech savvy soldiers is the need of the hour. Misuse of authority in the command while setting example for the rank and file must be avoided.”
Pertinently, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had denied reports that the Ministry of Home Affairs or Defence Ministry had banned use of smartphones by the jawans of military and para-military forces, earlier in January.