Army Field Tests Emoji-based Operations Order System
FORT GORDON, Ga. – A new system of operations orders based on emojis is being field-tested during selected training exercises, the Army’s Chief Information Officer reports. In spite of its immediate popularity with junior enlisted, sources tell Duffel Blog that negative reaction from senior leaders suggests the program might be scrapped.
“We’ve known for a while that the fastest communication network across any field exercise is via unsanctioned text messages,” said Col. Allen Richards, program manager. “We’re looking for ways to harness the power of the E-4 network to improve command and control.”
Initial testing with junior enlisted has been promising. Most found the smiling poops in line with their overall desire to read things and were thrilled to be getting any kind of communication at all from their leadership.
Within days, the junior NCOs and soldiers had developed their own emoji codes. For instance, the empty thought bubble means “standby to standby,” the racehorse stands for “hurry up and wait,” while the flexed arm means “you have any protein powder?” And the silver star informs the recipient “your ARCOM is totally getting downgraded.”
“It took a little getting used to after spending years using words,” said Capt. Blake Johnson, an operations planner. “But with so much of my career cutting and pasting little operational graphics onto maps for PowerPoint slides that would get briefed once, this is a relief. There’s a menu. I pick one. I’m done. It focuses the mind on the options I have. ‘Is that a firecracker kind of command and signal, or a banana kind?’ You make a decision and go.”
NCOs found that the awkward, time-consuming process of praising soldiers could be done much more effectively by mass-texting gold stars, thumbs up and the number 100.
However, up the chain of command, there are early concerns over the standard emoji menu.
“There’s no American flag on the Android menu,” said one Major. “I don’t trust anything that doesn’t have a ‘Murica flag on it.”
“It just shows up as US US US! If someone sends it to you,” he added. “That’s too much like reading.”
Equal Opportunity Program managers were also upset at the lack of diversity in the standard menu.
“Every emoji is either yellow or white, except for the guy with the turban. And the guy with the turban gets used to the enemy situation paragraph every time,” one source reported. “I worry that we’re training our troops to indiscriminately shoot at turbans.”
The program is unlikely to be fielded across the army. Field-grade and general officers, who are the only ones still using blackberries post-2007, found government-issued phones lacked the emoji keyboard at all. After one staff planning exercise resulted in (o)(o) and 8===I)~ used alternately for six days, the project appears doomed.