The U.S. Army announced today a competition to create useful smartphone and Web applications aimed at making the military more efficient, enhancing "warfighting effectiveness," and perhaps save soldiers' lives.

Called "Apps for the Army," or A4A, the challenge is only open to soldiers and Department of the Army civilians.

"We have a lot of capable soldiers and civilians in the Army that probably could build apps much like you do with the iPhone," said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson at a teleconference today.

Participation in A4A is limited to the first 100 Army personnel who enroll, and the top app submissions will be recognized at the LandWarNet Conference in August 2010.

In a statement, the Army said that A4A apps that will be considered are ones that tackle "distributed training, battle command, career management, continuing education, or news and information distribution."

A4A apps must be submitted by May 15, 2010. The winners of eight to-be-defined categories will receive cash prizes that will total $30,000. The Web apps will be hosted on Forge.mil, the Defense Information System's Agency's open source code and software repository.

A4A apps can also be built for Blackberry, iPhone or Android smartphone platforms.

Separately, the Army also announced this week that it will be testing "iPhone-like" devices later this year that can run battlefield apps.

The military smart phones will be tested with 200 soldiers at Fort Bliss in Texas.