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U.S. military enlists iPod Touch for battlefield

Apple's rugged device is proving a valuable tool for soldiers in Baghdad, who use iPods for a variety of tasks, such as translating messages, communicating with other troops, and gathering intelligence.

The U.S. military has found the iPod Touch to be a valuable battlefield tool for soldiers.

Updated at 1:25 p.m. PDT to clarify that apps being developed for iPhone as well.

The hottest new battlefield weapon in Baghdad is also a hot item on the home front.

Apple's iPod Touch is proving to be a valuable tool to members of the U.S. military, according to a report in Newsweek.

The report notes that the iPod performs many functions in this time of "networked warfare," enabling soldiers to be linked with other soldiers, as well as intelligence resources, such as aerial images from drones and translation software.

Soldiers can use applications to add translated phrases to maps and photos, as well as show villagers video messages from local leaders. A new program called Vcommunicator translates spoken and written Arabic, Kurdish, as well as two Afghan languages.

Another application developed for the iPhone allows soldiers to take a photo of a street sign, upload it, and immediately receive intelligence on the local area, such as water and sympathizers. Because new recruits are already familiar with how the iPod and iPhone work, it's also easier to train soldiers on loading content, the report notes.

Oh yeah, this rugged device, which retails for less than $230, was developed in the private sector without taxpayer money. Considering the military's history of being charged for $435 hammers, $640 toilet seats, and $7,600 coffeemakers by contractors, this is a great deal.