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DOD Opts for Android for Classified Tablets

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The tablet computers that top Pentagon officials are using to share and read classified messages and live stream intelligence and surveillance data are modified versions of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, a Defense Department spokesman told Nextgov Monday.

The tablets are running a modified version of Google’s Android operating system, DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said.

The tablets, which can access classified information at the secret level, are in the hands of 24 officials so far. DOD’s mobility office wants to expand that pilot program “in order to meet the department's demand for more capable mobility solutions,” acting DOD Chief Information Officer John Zangardi told Nextgov in an emailed statement.

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Zangardi, who became the department’s first classified tablet user in mid-May, called the tablets “a force enabler for the mission and for the warfighter.”

Ultimately, Zangardi’s office hopes to offer classified tablets on a wide scale to numerous DOD divisions, Davis said.

The classified tablet program was built on the existing infrastructure of a classified smartphone program that DOD has been running for several years, Davis said. Smartphones that can access information classified at the secret level are relatively widespread in government. Phones that can access the top-secret level are less widespread.

Zangardi’s office plans to offer a newer generation of the classified phones soon that will provide longer battery life, a larger screen and more processing power, Davis said. That increase in processing power will enable upcoming apps and virtual desktop infrastructure systems, he said.

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