Military

Talks of a Military Blockchain: What to Know

Cryptocurrency and the blockchain have gradually gained momentum as topics of conversation. Some countries plan to create national cryptocurrencies, and brands like AT&T and Kodak are working with the blockchain.

Due to these developments, some people wonder why there couldn’t be a military blockchain or cryptocurrency too.

In 2017, Morgan Rockwell, the CEO of Bitcoin Inc., tried to build interest around a cryptocurrency called Army Coin. Rockwell asserted that it could help the U.S. Army self-fund some of its military technology, plus allow the public to take part via crowdfunding.

In his Medium piece about the project, Rockwell also proposed that military personnel could use the cryptocurrency to pay for things on base or get authorization for new equipment.

However, Rockwell apparently couldn’t achieve enough traction to make the military take notice. The cryptocurrency’s official website no longer exists, and the last Twitter update on its feed was a couple of years ago. Although that effort ultimately fizzled out, some of Rockwell’s points highlight why a cryptocurrency could work well in some instances.

For example, deployed soldiers get paid via direct deposit. That system serves its purpose but having access to cryptocurrency could aid soldiers in sending money to their family members. If a soldier’s young daughter is celebrating a birthday soon, they might send some cryptocurrency to a spouse to help fund the party.

Cryptocurrency could also give a soldier a convenient payment option when they want to buy something on base without carrying cash.

Even though it seems there are no serious plans to launch a military cryptocurrency, there’s a related possibility. A branch of the Army that deals with securing terrestrial and satellite communications reportedly considered blockchain technology to meet its needs, along with several other options.

For example, it’s curious about the feasibility of a private blockchain that tracks the origin and movement of messages through the network and could detect if modification happens.

The Army also wants details about how to build a blockchain-based user authentication system. It would like to quickly add or remove users as needed throughout its existence.

However, such projects are still in the early stages. Army personnel submitted a request for information. That means they want to see what’s available but is not committing to using the technology or awarding contracts to providers yet.

Sources indicate that military operations in the United States, China and Russia appear the most interested in relying on the blockchain. One of the ways they might use it is to monitor equipment parts as they progress through the supply chain and ensure their authenticity. Recently, a subgroup of GE Aviation built a blockchain with Microsoft Azure to track the sources and lifespans of airplane parts.

This approach could eliminate the risk of counterfeit parts. When branches of the Armed Forces have unaddressed issues with counterfeit parts, those components could cause mission failures and safety issues, plus pose national security risks.

The sector of GE Aviation that made the blockchain is not the one that sells parts to the military. However, there are still valid use cases for a military blockchain.

A branch of the U.S. Navy recently kicked off a pilot program that relies on the blockchain to stay aware of aircraft parts throughout their lifecycles. Having this information more accessible could facilitate efficient, cost-effective maintenance, as well as safeguard against counterfeiting.

Some people also think cryptocurrencies could empower countries in need, such as nations that have corrupt banking systems. Rob Viglione is the CEO of a cryptocurrency company called Horizen, but his interest was apparent abroad, too.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 as a data scientist for the U.S. Army, and he taught Afghan citizens an introductory cryptocurrency course while there.

Viglione still believes cryptocurrencies give people relief from the stress of volatile economies. If branches of the Armed Forces had cryptocurrencies for their soldiers to use, it’d likely be easier for those service members to explain to residents how they work.

Then, when military members are sent to deal with upheaval and assist societies with returning to sustainability, they might bring up cryptocurrency as an option.

Many health care brands are pondering potentially using the blockchain to keep medical records secure.

A company called ManTech specializes in providing technological solutions to the military. It proposes using a military blockchain for health data associated with Veterans Affairs health services and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Things can get complicated if a member of the military receives medical treatment in their home community, then again while deployed in a foreign country that does not have a strong medical records infrastructure. Keeping this data on the blockchain could promote consistency, plus convenience.

Neither a military blockchain nor a military cryptocurrency are out of the question — though the latter seems less likely.

However, military entities are still testing the worthiness of these options. They haven’t confirmed a widespread rollout, and it’s uncertain when or if they will. All people can do is wait and see.

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