Pentagon Prepares for End of BlackBerry Era

A Blackberry cell phone is seen at Fixx wireless on November 4, 2013 in Miami, Florida.
National Journal
Aliya Sternstein, Nextgov
Aliya Sternstein, NextGov
Nov. 12, 2013, 4:28 a.m.

The De­fense De­part­ment, own­er of 470,000 Black­Berrys, is dis­tan­cing it­self from the strug­gling vendor while mov­ing ahead with con­struc­tion of a de­part­mentwide app store and a sys­tem for se­cur­ing all mo­bile devices, in­clud­ing the latest iPhones, iPads, and Sam­sung smart­phones and tab­lets.

Just two months ago, when Black­Berry an­nounced the com­pany would rad­ic­ally cur­tail com­mer­cial sales, Pentagon of­fi­cials said their busi­ness part­ner­ship re­mained un­af­fected. At the time, De­fense’s tech­no­logy sup­port agency was ready­ing net­works with soft­ware to handle tens of thou­sands of Black­Berry Z10 and Q10 smart­phones.

Last week, Black­Berry called off a tent­at­ive buy­out and fired Chief Ex­ec­ut­ive Of­ficer Thor­sten Heins, height­en­ing un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture of the com­pany, which has seen its mar­ket share plum­met in re­cent years as con­sumers em­braced more user-friendly devices that run on op­er­at­ing sys­tems built by Apple and Google.

For now, De­fense’s mo­bile se­cur­ity strategy primar­ily de­pends on Black­Berry. The Pentagon has gran­ted only Black­Berry 10 phones and Play­book tab­lets an “au­thor­ity to op­er­ate,” or ATO — not An­droid, Apple or any oth­er device lines. Con­sumer smart­phones and tab­lets must have an ATO to hook up to De­fense net­works.

But there is a con­tin­gency plan at the Pentagon, should Black­Berry phones go the way of Betamax VCRs.

A 2012 strategy to trans­ition per­son­nel from PCs to smart­phones and tab­lets did not fa­vor any one device maker, De­fense of­fi­cials noted on Thursday. “This multi-vendor, device-ag­nost­ic ap­proach min­im­izes the im­pact of [a] single vendor to our cur­rent op­er­a­tions,” Pentagon spokes­man Lt. Col. Dami­en Pick­art said.

Im­ple­ment­a­tion of the strategy cen­ters on a “mo­bile device man­age­ment” sys­tem to track hand­helds that touch mil­it­ary net­works so that they do not com­prom­ise mil­it­ary in­form­a­tion or cor­rupt De­fense sys­tems.

“DoD’s mo­bil­ity strategy and com­mer­cial mo­bile device im­ple­ment­a­tion plan in­cludes re­li­ance on mul­tiple vendors to sup­port its mo­bile com­mu­nic­a­tions needs,” Pick­art said.

The mo­bile se­cur­ity man­age­ment sys­tem is in the early stages of de­vel­op­ment. It will un­der­go a lim­ited pi­lot, or reach “ini­tial op­er­at­ing ca­pa­city,” by Dec. 31, Pick­art said.

The Pentagon an­ti­cip­ates con­nect­ing 300,000 ap­proved gov­ern­ment-is­sued con­sumer devices by 2016.

More from Nex­t­Gov, our sis­ter site:

White House’s $14 Bil­lion Cy­ber Spend­ing Claim Is Squishy

How In­teri­or Trumps NASA in Twit­ter En­gage­ment

CMS Man­ager Who Ap­proved Health­Care.gov Launch Nev­er Re­ceived Key Se­cur­ity Memos

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
2 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×