Space Force ditches annual fitness tests in favor of wearable gadgets

The US Space Force isn’t just putting cutting-edge technology among the stars: it’s also putting it on the bodies of its own service members, with wearable fitness trackers that will track sleep habits, exercise habits, and more. exercise and more.

Fitness trackers are just one of many steps the Space Force has recently taken to modernize the US military, but experts fear trackers could create security issues.

In an Aug. 16 memo, Space Force chief Patricia Mulcahy announced that the force would soon abandon the annual physical fitness test used by other military branches.

Instead, the force will use “wearable technology and software solution coupled with fitness/training regimens and preventative health practices to increase self-awareness, provide ongoing health visibility and overall fitness and motivating members and their leaders to increase performance,” the memo reads.

All Space Force members, called Guardians, will serve as beta testers during a year-long evaluation period for the new technology.

The US Space Force will drop its annual physical fitness test and require its members to wear a fitness gadget to help track overall health. The change raised concerns about security. Above, Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman presents then-President Donald Trump with the official Space Force flag in the Oval Office of the White House on May 15, 2020.
Samuel Corum/Getty

Guardians will wear black health monitoring rings that have been seen on the fingers of several branch leaders, the military news site Task and Purpose reported. The rings monitor heart rate and can detect rest and exertion.

The wearables will link to software from FitRankings, an Austin, Texas-based company that provides data graphs connected to various wearable fitness trackers, like Nike Run Club and Fitbit wrist devices. The company has previously worked with USA Cycling, USA Triathlon, Under Armour, and grocery chain HEB, Air Force Magazine reported.

Patricia Mulcahy, head of Space Force, said data from the devices will not be used to penalize or promote the Guardians. Instead, the devices could grade individual Guardians into a green-yellow-red light determining their physical “readiness,” Space Force Chief Master Sergeant Roger A. Towberman said, according to the aforementioned publication. .

The devices are also part of a larger program to focus on Guardian’s mental and general wellbeing. The data could also be used to run group challenges, allow team members to see each other’s progress, or simply ask individual Guardians to commit to exercise rather than workout routines. specific physical conditioning.

Continuous monitoring would be a change from the traditional practice in other branches of assessing an individual’s strength and endurance in a single test once a year. The change also makes sense given that space operations primarily involve a lot of seated desk work, such as “sitting at a satellite control console or monitoring missile launch data on a computer.” military times reported.

However, portable devices could potentially create a security risk if FitRankings stores too much data. In 2018, the Pentagon issued a memo telling service members not to wear fitness trackers because they could reveal compromising location data to enemies, reported.

The devices could also give Guardians the impression that they are constantly being watched, Towberman said. Efforts are being made to reduce these potential risks or discomfort regarding the devices, Towberman and FitRankings said.

The rings are just one part of recent Space Force efforts to modernize the US military.

The 2022 defense spending bill also includes $1.3 billion for the Space Force to fund technology development projects that will help it stay ahead of the two biggest adversaries in the America in space: Russia and China.

Countries have already tested anti-satellite missiles, dedicating high-energy lasers to attack satellites, according to the technology publication Wired.

As such, the Space Force wishes to develop a less vulnerable national security space architecture. Such an architecture could involve “redundant systems across multiple orbits,” increased protection against cyberattacks, and reduced reliance on single-point ground control centers, military news site Breaking Defense reported.

Newsweek contacted Space Force for comment.

About Nereida Nystrom

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