A brigade of paratroopers deployed in early January to the Middle East in the wake of mounting tensions with Iran has been asked by its leadership to use two encrypted messaging applications on government cell phones.
The use of the encrypted messaging applications Signal and Wickr by the 82nd Airborne’s Task Force Devil underscores the complexity of security and operations for U.S. forces deployed to war zones where adversaries can exploit American communications systems, cell phones and the electromagnetic spectrum.
But it also raises questions as to whether the Department of Defense is scrambling to fill gaps in potential security vulnerabilities for American forces operating overseas by relying on encrypted messaging apps available for anyone to download in the civilian marketplace.
“All official communication on government cell phones within TF Devil has been recommended to use Signal or Wickr encrypted messaging apps,” Maj. Richard Foote, a spokesman for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, told Military Times.
“These are the two apps recommended by our leadership, as they are encrypted and free for download and use,” Foote said.