The Department of Defense is rolling out a new tablet program — expanding the department's yearslong experimentation with mobile devices.
Announced Wednesday by the Defense Information Systems Agency, the pilot program allows senior officials to work on secure 8-inch tablets. So far, 24 tablets have been issued, and the first was given to the DOD's acting chief information officer.
The program expands on the department's support for smartphones, and spokespeople say the switch from a 5-inch phone screen to an 8-inch tablet makes it easier for officials to work.
The Department of Defense has been testing out different tablets for years. Back in 2011, it approved the use of Dell Android tablets for military personnel. During that time, BlackBerry smartphones were the most widely used mobile devices in the military.
It wasn't until 2015, however, that military smartphones could access top-secret files. Engadget reports the new tablets currently have access to secret information — the second-highest level of classification — but not top-secret information.
The biggest difference between civilian and military mobile devices isn't necessarily in the device itself but the network. Out in the field, soldiers set up their own secure networks. Beyond basic document viewers and email, military personnel also have access to noncivilian applications relevant to their work on their smart devices.