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Army’s first iPad e-book ready for download

Mar. 19, 2013 - 07:22AM   |  
“Vanguard of Valor,” which details small unit actions and lessons learned from Afghanistan, was released March 8
“Vanguard of Valor,” which details small unit actions and lessons learned from Afghanistan, was released March 8 (Army)
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Download “Vanguard of Valor” from the iBooks application on the iPad or from iTunes. Soldiers can send feedback to the Combat Studies Institute by using the email links embedded at the end of every chapter in the iBook, by visiting the institute’s website or by sending an email.

The Army’s first interactive electronic book for the iPad is available for download.

“Vanguard of Valor,” which details small unit actions and lessons learned from Afghanistan, was released March 8. It is a reimagining of a hard-copy book of the same name that was released early last year, and it features maps, photos, audio clips, videos, digital models of weapons, and even virtual staff rides, or tours, through Afghanistan’s terrain.

The intent behind “Vanguard of Valor” was to capture a historical narrative from the perspective of young officers and noncommissioned officers, said Donald Wright, chief of the research and publications team at the Combined Arms Center’s Combat Studies Institute.

When the hard copy of the book was released, the team began to hear from soldiers who wanted an interactive, multimedia-filled e-book, Wright said.

“It became clear that the soldiers themselves wanted this type of product,” he said. “We’re all about making history relevant to the soldier, and this is just another way to engage soldiers, especially the younger soldiers, in a way they’re more used to.”

The book was downloaded about 1,200 times during its first week of release.

The “Vanguard of Valor” iBook is the way of the future, said Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Parson, the senior enlisted soldier for the Combined Arms Center’s leader development and education.

“It’s the direction we’re going to go with material that lends itself to an iBook,” he said. “It brings the story to life, and it turns those lessons learned into something that will be enduring so soldiers won’t forget it.”

Parson said many organizations in the Army are already incorporating the lessons from the book into leader development courses and other schools.

The Army is focusing on “how do you capture the attention of your student,” Parson said. “This is really tapping into all the sensors available. Everybody learns differently.”

The electronic version of “Vanguard of Valor” is free and available for download from the iTunes store or the iBooks application on the iPad.

The book doesn’t work on the iPhone, and Wright and his team are working to produce a version compatible with Android devices.

The team also is looking to convert other publications into interactive e-books.

“We see this as not just a one-off publication,” Wright said. “We’ve definitely talked about what would be next, but we wanted to find out who our primary customers would be and what they want.”

The iBook contains a resource section that can be updated based on reader feedback and provide users with links to manuals, references and other downloadable resources.

“This was to create the first living, breathing reference section that I know of in existence,” he said. “We’ll build an institutional knowledge base together.”

Wright and Michael Doidge, a historian at the Combat Studies Institute, also encouraged users to write to the institute with feedback, comments and suggestions.

“I want to make the next work better,” Doidge said. “I want soldiers to be able to tell me, ‘This is what I need from you,’ ‘This is how I’m going to benefit from your work,’ so I can satisfy that requirement.”

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