The iPhone is many different things to many different people. I have heard some refer to it as their cellphone, while others describe it as a smartphone, a pocket computer and even the Jesus Phone. One thing I have not heard people call it is a weapon though. Until now that is.
According to a Newsweek report the iPhone could be the "future of networked warfare." Although that report actually mentions just the iTouch by name, the software being developed by the US Department of Defense will run perfectly well on an iPhone because the two are, essentially, one and the same apart from the obvious lack of certain functionality from the iTouch.
The military rather likes the iTouch/iPhone because it doesn't cost too much in the overall scheme of things, is dead easy to use and can be put to many different tasks. What sort of tasks? Well there is the really rather obvious one of soldier-to-soldier communication on the battlefield, and also that of a handheld intelligence resources device that could include everything from language translation software to aerial imaging displays.
The translation function is a good example of why the iPhone is being touted as the next small thing to become part of the military arsenal. In the past soldiers have had access to handheld devices which provide such a translation function. Newsweek says that these have been "made at great expense specially for the battlefield." The trouble is, such devices cost a lot and do very little other than that core functionality. An iPhone costs relatively little and does a whole load of very diverse things. Just take a look at the App Store for proof of that, although you probably won't be finding too many US Army apps popping up there any time soon.
The other reason that the iPhone could prove to be so cost effective is perhaps not so obvious. Many soldiers are already familiar with the highly intuitive iPhone/iTouch interface so reducing the cost of training while at the same time speeding up deployment in the field.
The Director of Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors Operations for the US Army in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Lt. Col. Jim Ross, told Newsweek that it "may be all that they need."