The Marine Corps and National Security Agency have joined forces to bring cellphones to the battlefield by 2019. Working with the NSA’s new Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program should let the Marines acquire cutting-edge civilian technology swiftly without sacrificing security, said Maj. Kevin Shepherd of Marine Corps Systems Command.

The Marine Corps hasn’t chosen a vendor yet. The Army’s comparable Nett Warrior program and some intriguing Marine experiments have gone with Android, but Army Special Operations Command just dumped its Androids for iPhones, so there’s a precedent for either choice.

To help them choose, the Marines put out a preliminary Request For Information (RFI) in January, asking for industry input. They’re now drafting a refined RFI that should be out “very shortly,” said Maj. Shepherd, a helicopter pilot who now heads the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Common Handheld team, which stood up last fall. “That will clarify the stuff that we’ve learned since January,” he told me. “We learn very quickly in this field because it changes very rapidly.”

The competition will kick off with a formal Request For Proposals (RFP) this fall — perhaps even before fiscal 2017 begins on October 1st — with an eye to getting fielded systems in the hands of young squad leaders in 2019.