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Air Force Officers Urge Pentagon to Operationalize Wearable Devices

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Lt. Col. Gabe Arrington and Col. Christopher Mulder of the U.S. Air Force said the Department of Defense should embrace the potential of wearable devices and empower each military branch to adopt such technologies.

Clearly, expanding the use of wearable technology in the DoD could have positive implications for both military capability and general health research,” Arrington and Mulder wrote in an opinion piece published Tuesday on Breaking Defense.

They mentioned the Rapid Analysis of Threat Exposure system developed by the Defense Innovation Unit with Philips Healthcare in 2020 and how the technology provides DOD with an opportunity to broaden the operational use of wearable devices.

Mulder and Arrington discussed how wearables could aid military leaders in their leadership and decision-making and how such devices could help monitor and track warfighters’ physical and mental health conditions and tailor training activities.

As with any new technology, there are going to be challenges. The obvious downside to overly scaling wearables is the question of who has access to the data and for what purpose,” they wrote.

While the DoD has an opportunity to partner with the commercial sector to operationalize wearables, it must also establish processes and infrastructure to protect this data from breaches in security, particularly from potential adversaries, as well as preventing use outside of official DoD purposes,” they added.

Arrington is a national defense fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Mulder is a graduate of the Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, where he conducted research on holistic health.