The Space Force plans to rely on wearable fitness monitors to track troops’ sleep routines, heart rate and physical activity, one of the few details leaders began discussing ahead of the spacecraft’s deployment. new service health assessment next year.
Asked about upcoming fitness standards by Military.com, Gen. John Raymond, the service’s chief of space operations, told reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in Orlando on Friday that he wanted to focus on general fitness, rather than preparing the Guardians. for a physical training test.
“We want to prioritize wearing available wearable devices to get data to measure fitness holistically throughout the year, rather than just doing a one-time PT test,” Raymond said.
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As the newest branch of the service, the Space Force has struggled to forge its own identity, distinct from that of the larger Air Force, through its uniforms and jargon – and now by approaching physical fitness differently. and health.
To date, the Space Force has relied on the standard Air Force PT test, which includes sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run.
Raymond announced earlier this week that the number of active duty Space Force Guardians will increase from 7,000 to around 8,400 by the end of the year. In particular, a third of them will never have served in active service in the Air Force.
A good number of new Guardians have come from other branches of the military service since the Space Force’s inception in late 2019. As holistic health assessment continues to be the subject of workshops, Raymond said he had asked new members of the Space Force to stick to a physical training test. they are familiar with this year.
“The direction I gave is that everyone is going to take a PT test this year, regardless of what department they were in,” Raymond said. “And that’s just to make sure Guardians personally understand where they are at with their fitness.”
Chief Staff Sgt. Roger Towberman, the Space Force’s top non-commissioned officer, told reporters that Guardians will have three levels – green, yellow and red – to assess their health status. This color code will take into account sleep, cardiovascular health and physical activity.
This will give officers the opportunity to check on the fitness progress of their fellow Guardians and keep them on track throughout the year, Towberman added.
“We’re building this community, this culture of fitness, where in a fun way people immediately start taking care of each other and they’re connected,” he said.
Portable devices have raised questions in the past about privacy and security. In 2018, a note from the Ministry of Defense advised service members in deployed areas and high-level bases to leave their fitness trackers at home lest they reveal compromising location data to adversaries.
“The rapidly evolving market for devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to DoD personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations around the world,” the memo reads. .
Space Force leadership has not discussed how wearable devices could affect operational security.
But when asked about concerns over the frequent sharing of Guardians’ private health data with the Space Force, Towberman said the troops had to agree that the use of trackers was part of their service, pointing to other communities that use the successful wearable technology.
“Privacy rights, of course, are important,” Towberman said. “Also, it’s the terms of employment in the team. So as long as you understand what you’re getting into, I think there’s a lot less concern about that.”
Additionally, Space Force Guardians won’t be in the field as much as other service branches, mitigating some operational security concerns.
Space Force is the latest service to reform long-standing physical fitness standards in the ranks.
The Air Force plans to use a height and height measurement report as a way to assess the health of Airmen. In December 2020, the branch became the first to drop the waistline portion of the physical assessment.
Since then, the military has also started looking closely at the tape measure test, which has been used to measure a person’s body mass index since the 19th century.
This assessment is done using a tape measure to compare height to circumference measurements around the hips, abdomen, and neck to determine overall body fat.
Towberman knows that service members in other branches have taken drastic measures to pass their fitness tests or put on weight when it’s time to step on the scale. He hopes the new wearables will allow Guardians to think about their health all the time, rather than when it’s too late.
“It allows for intervention – a useful and meaningful investment in the Guardians – instead of disciplinary and punitive interventions because they failed for six months and then someone has to do something,” he said.
— Thomas Novelly can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
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