U.S. NSA, U.S. Army buy thousands of Samsung devices

“Samsung recently won an order for roughly 7,000 smartphones from the U.S. Army and is close to an order for several thousand devices from the U.S. National Security Agency, according to a person familiar with the matter,” Will Connors reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“The Army order is for the company’s Nett Warrior system, which outfits soldiers with a chest-mounted Samsung Note II smartphone to use while on the battlefield,” Connors reports. “While Samsung already had an initial contract to supply devices for the Nett Warrior system, the new order expands the number of Samsung devices in use there. The NSA order would be for the agency’s Fishbowl Project, an initiative it started several years ago to update the devices used by NSA personnel.”

“This momentum could spell trouble for new BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen,” Connors reports. “Shortly after taking the helm at BlackBerry in November, Mr. Chen said he would focus on winning back enterprise customers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Government Intelligence: A Korean company that has been convicted of infringing a U.S. company’s patents, thereby stealing billions of dollars of business away from said U.S. company, is being rewarded by the U.S. government with U.S. taxpayers’ money.

Concerned U.S. taxpayers should contact their U.S. representatives and ask them why these purchases are occurring.

[Attribution: c4isrnet.com. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Shadowself” for the heads up.]


    1. This question is rather easily answered by checking Apple.com.

      The problem is right there, actually; this is the first question that will come up at any large enterprise where MS-Blackberry drones control deployment of IT infrastructure. The moment you begin to explore the answers to this question is the moment you lose this game. Regardless of the real simplicity of challenges with deployment of Apple’s mobile hardware in controlled enterprise environment, the overriding themes will be “proprietary technology”, “closed systems”, “expensive hardware”, “no enterprise sales and support team”… Apple simply cannot win against MS and Blackberry (although the latter is doing everything they possibly can to shed their market share in all segments).

      Samsung was most likely chosen because then they can simply rip out the OEM version of Android and deploy their own, forked, custom version with whatever features they want. However, that way, they lose the ability to blame anyone else but themselves for any security breaches / vulnerabilities…

      1. “Samsung was most likely chosen because then they can simply rip out the OEM version of Android and deploy their own, forked, custom version with whatever features they want. However, that way, they lose the ability to blame anyone else but themselves for any security breaches / vulnerabilities…”

        Unless the U.S. Army (or the NSA) changes the hardware (or forces Samsung to do a unique hardware implementation) there is nothing in the hardware that keeps someone in the field from loading the stock Note II software back into the system. And given the number of battlefield hacks that happen, does *anyone* think that won’t happen to some subset of the units?

    2. There’s a recent article on AppleInsider that deals with this:

      “Apple readying tools to simplify mass iOS device deployment and management”

      Seems the the next update to iOS may help large customers control configuration of iOS devices much better than now.

  1. I’ve never yet seen Apple actively pursue DoD contracts. Besides Apple doesn’t make phone in the Note II’s size class and iPad Mini’s onscreen elements are too small to target with gloves while the enclosure is too big.

    1. Apple has publicly stated that the NSA has no backdoor in iOS, so it doesn’t seem like this would be something that Apple could accommodate easily.

      They’d have to provide a different version of iOS and Apple’s cloud servers so that the gov’t could easily track every bit of information.

      I do think it’s disgusting that they’re using Samsung, a company that has stolen billions in US tax revenue with their convicted IP thieving ways

  2. Of course this could have nothing to do with ‘encouraging’ South Korea to continue to buy American military equipment, in particular a certain military aircraft order that competitors seem to have already given up trying to win for some unexplained reason. Not that I am at all cynical on the matter

        1. one Executive Order: All purchases made by the US Government shall be given to American companies with first priority, only those items required that are NOT created in the United States shall be considered for purchase.

          how fscking hard is that, Drag?

        2. No… I repeat, NO … Presidential Executive Order would survive its first challenge in the courts (and you can count on there being one) if it said this. There are many laws on the books (put there by both sides of the aisle) that require more open competition than “U.S. First”.

          There is the “Buy American Act” or “Buy American Clause” (as it’s often referred to, I don’t remember the formal name of the law) already on the books, and it can only be used in specific circumstances. If any sitting president wants to radically expand beyond this he MUST get Congress to go along.

          If you want the president (any president) to support such an action, then get Congress to change the laws so that the president can actually do something like this.

          Otherwise this is just another case of complaining just to complain.

        3. Yes. You are technically correct.

          However, are you saying that every president must know the details of every purchase that is less than 0.000001% of the defense budget?

          Also, being Commander-in-Chief has significant limitations. The president does not control how the U.S. military is funded. That is done through Congress. The president does not control how the U.S. military spends that money once funded. That is done through Congress. The president does not control the laws delineating how the U.S. military must do its contracting efforts. That is done through Congress.

          Being Commander-in-Chief, the U.S. President actively directs what 2-, 3- and 4-star generals and admirals do — on a military action basis. The presidents almost never go lower than that. Hell, the U.S. Presidents don’t even unilaterally pick those 2-, 3- and 4-star officers or the positions in which they are in. The president most often recommends the person for promotion or a new command, but Congress gets direct say. If you’re a 1-star officer you’re NOT going to get a promotion or placed into a position of greater authority without Congressional buy in. That’s just the way it is.

          Stating that the U.S. President is Commander-in-Chief and has direct control over the U.S. military and implying that he has unilateral control over what the U.S. military does is either naive in the extreme or intentionally misleading.

        4. You clearly don’t know how a Presidential Executive Order works, is implemented or the constraints upon them.

          The general concept is that a Presidential Executive Order (PEO) is as good as law EXCEPT when it contravenes existing laws or is overturned by a subsequent law or is overturned by a subsequent Presidential Executive Order.

          A PEO can be challenged in the courts by *anyone* in the U.S., whether that be an individual residing in the U.S. or a business that can legally operate within the U.S. You could do it if you wanted to go through the legal system to do it. I’d have to go back and check exactly how many and when, but a few have been killed by challenges. HOWEVER, for the most part, PEOs are very, very thoroughly researched to make sure they’re not going to be easily overturned long before they are ever issued. And, the most common way they are supplanted is when Congress passes a bill and the president signs it into law.

          Because there are laws already on the books that are diametrically opposed to what you are suggesting Obama do through a PEO, he will never issue such a PEO. (No president would do so.) His staff knows that as soon as someone challenges it through the courts it is dead.

        5. Until the early 1900s, the term “Executive Orders” had not even been invented. Presidential instructions to executive branch staff that would later be characterized as “Executive Orders” went mostly unannounced and undocumented, seen only by the agencies to which they were directed. However, the Department of State instituted a numbering scheme for Executive Orders in 1907, starting retroactively with an order issued on October 20, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln. The documents that later came to be known as “Executive Orders” probably gained their name from this document, captioned “Executive Order Establishing a Provisional Court in Louisiana.”

          Until the 1950s, there were no rules or guidelines outlining what the president could or could not do through an Executive Order other than, of course, the US Constitution which reserved all federal legislative authority to Congress. This issue was paramount in the Supreme Court ruling in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952) that Executive Order 10340 from President Harry S. Truman placing all steel mills in the country under federal control was invalid because it attempted to make law, rather than clarify or act to further a law put forth by the Congress or the Constitution. Presidents since this decision have generally been careful to cite which specific laws under which they are acting when issuing new Executive Orders.

          Despite the provisions of Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution that reserves all federal legislative authority to congress, Presidents have increasingly used Executive Orders as if they were equivalent to an act of Congress. Presidents have even issued Executive Orders to start entire wars despite the fact that Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution specifically reserves to Congress the sole authority to declare war.

          Wars begun by Executive Order include the 1999 Kosovo War during Bill Clinton’s second term in office. However, all such wars have had authorizing resolutions from Congress. The extent to which the president may exercise military power independently of Congress and the scope of the War Powers Resolution remain unresolved constitutional issues, although all Presidents since its passage have complied with the terms of the Resolution while maintaining that they are not constitutionally required to do so. In fact, the US Constitution grants no war-making powers whatsoever to the President, only to Congress. Without the War Powers Resolution or other authorizing resolutions from Congress, Presidents lack any Constitutional war-making powers despite their far-reaching claims to the contrary. Congress has been notably unwilling to press this issue for political reasons, especially when a President has already ordered troops into battle and they have obeyed that order.

        6. You apparently don’t know how Washington works. Political influence operates on many levels, and from many sources. Political appointees steering business to their cronies, Congressional representatives promoting business that benefits their constituents, lobbyists promoting the interests they represent, etc.

          When it comes to Defense deals, even diplomatic considerations come into play. And then there’s the catch-all message that “The President wants …”

  3. This is a result of iOS 7.
    Apple’s advantage is in its quality, usability and style. All three need to be present to set Apple apart.
    Expecting adults to be happy with a screen size *the entire industry* has moved up from and a garish Hello Kitty UI for professional environments is asking too much. We should anticipate more of these news stories to hit until the bizarre neon color scheme is gone, the UI is brought back to the level it was before they let the Ikea designers loose on it, and Apple ups the real estate.
    I bring my older iPad to meetings with clients. It’s just embarrassing otherwise.

    1. After four months on iOS 7, the old iOS 6 on my brother’s iPhone looks positively archaic, unintuitive, cluttered, unappealing and downright boring — like something from 20th century.

      iOS 7 is fundamentally superior in every aspect of it.

      There will always be people who are simply afraid of radical change, no matter how significant the improvements such change brings.

      As for the “entire industry” moving “up” on screen sizes, at present, within the market space of the main competition (Android OS), more than 80% of the market is populated by devices with the screen diagonal that’s the same size as iPhone 5. While every phone maker has one or two large-screen models in their stable, they also offer some 20 standard-sized models. The big phones may be selling in millions, but normal ones sell in hundreds of millions.

      The industry hasn’t quite “moved up”; a modest corner has, and Apple hasn’t found it worth their while to pursue that corner (yet).

    2. Ridiculous comment. The soldier needs something small, light, rugged, and rock solid reliable. Not sure the Army made the right choice here. As I said below, this sounds like a real-world type experiment that will be tried on training outfits. 7000 soldiers is a tiny fraction of the Army. There will likely be 7000 other soldiers with iPhones, and a comparison made.

    3. What kind of professional environment is it where people are paying more attention to what is on each other’s screens than to the business at hand.
      If they’re behaving like children by sneering at the colours of a few icons, then they’re not professional enough to be worth doing business with.
      I’d certainly think twice about the wisdom of dealing with such a business.
      But Zaphod seems much more concerned with ephemera than doing business.

  4. Chest mounted phones for soldiers have to be cheap. Virtually the cheapest phones they could find that meet some minimum criteria for the grunts. The iPhones will be in the command and control center where the officers are.

    Plus, 7000 phones doesn’t outfit much of the US army. Sounds like an experiment to me.

  5. What a load of CRAP! Yeah good job, support the slavish convicted POS instead of your own home grown company. Oh yeah what a bunch of idiots to trust Samsung and that open wide ass Android for security. Just so stupid.

  6. We’ll this really doesn’t surprise me. Before I joined the Army, I thought that these guys always get the best tools for the job. After all this is the most powerful Army in the world. Reality was quite different, our tools were clearly the cheapest pile of cr@p anyone knew it. It took a lot of effort to replace all that junk with better equipment. That a company like Samdung, that broke US laws is getting is getting a contract over an American company like Apple is no surprise. After all logically choosing the best phone, the best quality and less security risks ( see studies from Cisco and other) are no obstacle in contracts like these. After all how else are our Senators and elected officials, going to afford their speedboats and expensive cars….?

  7. Mr Cummings,

    Thank you for your time reading this message. I’m an Army veteran and I would like to know why is our military buying equipment from Samsung, when they are proven to be breaking US patent laws and affecting american interests. Samsung was awarded a contract for thousands of cellphones after loosing a series of court cases against Apple. Not only that, but studies from Cisco and others, show that 99% of cellphone virus and other security concerns affect Android/ Samsung phones, when Apple phones are not affected.

    I hope this decision can be reversed and benefit an American company instead!

  8. “Samsung recently won an order for roughly 7,000 smartphones from the U.S. Army and is close to an order for several thousand devices from the U.S. National Security Agency…

    OMG are we fracked here in the USA. Shameful. Considering the horror that is Android security, my estimation of the competence of the NSA remains the same: Abysmal. Astounding, isn’t it! The NSA is itself security incompetent.

    Have fun China! I know you’re rejoicing at this demented news. I think I’ll go off somewhere and vomit.

  9. I can kinda understand it. To transfer files back and fourth, simply plugging in the device and having it mount like a USB device is easy and convenient. Apple needs to allow this, I want iOS to mount and open up like your Home Directory in OS X with all the folders, Movies, Music, Messages, RingTones, etc.

  10. The military personnel who approved the Samsung purchase should be demoted and placed in menial positions. If politicians or big business was involved they should be put in jail.
    The best is always the cheapest in the long run. The American military deserves the best not crap.

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