Pentagon- Personal Bio Monitoring Next

| May 2, 2023

Dr. Lightbulb, Defense Innovation Unit

Military Expanding the Use of Fitness Trackers to Detect Disease Outbreaks Such as COVID-19

By Drew F. Lawrence

The Pentagon is expanding the use of wearable fitness trackers to help predict outbreaks of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 as use of the technology, such as watches and rings, spreads in the military despite early security concerns.

The Defense Innovation Unit, an entity within the Pentagon focused on pairing commercially available technology with military uses, says that it had success during the pandemic in identifying infections by marrying an artificial intelligence algorithm with a commercial device.

The breakthrough allowed the DIU to predict sickness and transmissions days in advance. Its announcement comes as the Pentagon looks to apply wearable trackers across the force, not only to better detect diseases, but to bolster health through sleep, diet and exercise tracking.

Not chipped like the neighbor’s Golden Retriever? Yeah, no.

Category: Big Pentagon, It's science!, The Stupid is Strong

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Old tanker

Oh the sky is falling, the sky is falling. Run and hide. Don’t forget to leave your tracker somewhere else. You know the one you pay for and have with you virtually 24/7, your phone. The one fitness advocates have paired to their fit bit, another trackable device.

I am curious, given the heavy use by units to maintain contact, are cell phones required for troops on active duty? I see several comments on FB Vet sites talking about the misuse of phones / text by superiors requiring maintaining contact even when the troop is on leave.


I wasn’t all that concerned until recently.
The cpap machine that I have to use sends data back to the
doctor via a WiFi connection built into the machine.
Medicare is all over the arrangement because they pay for
rental of the machine and it’s supplies.
Just the tip of the privacy iceberg.
I’ll bet there is a camera watching me sleep……..


Telemetry make sure those “CPAP gives you 50% disability!” folk are honest.


That’s not a new thing, unfortunately, and was a source of not only a bunch of unnecessary stress but was absolutely asinine in practice. 3/15 Infantry, at the time part of 4th Brigade, 3d ID (since reflagged to 2nd BDE) had a policy requiring an “up” to be sent through the NCO Support Channel on each day off. Certain holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, required two “ups”. As implemented, the day off didn’t start until my team leaders heard from each of their Soldiers and sent me a text. In turn I had to send a text to the PSG and so it went to the BN CSM, who required 100% accountability by 1000 (or was it 1200? I forget). Bear in mind, I’d recently gotten back from Afghanistan, having spent the deployment in BDE S3, so I was in the habit of not even carrying my phone when off-duty. Joke was on me when I got to 3/15 shortly after leave. Damn, I hated that dumb rule. I had at least one Soldier point blank tell me he just set a scheduled message for weekends. I wasn’t going to hold it against him, but I couldn’t do the same considering I had a full squad and couldn’t just assume. Must have been nice being Joe Rifleman. To boot, I had a couple of special cases in my squad. My SF/Ranger-qualified PSG considered me the junior SSG (I had over 7 years in grade at the time, while the next senior SSG had only a year and the third had been pinned a month prior) since I had come from staff and spent my previous time in recruiting and The Old Guard. He had little leadership, having left SF as an 18B and previously been junior enlisted in 75th Ranger, but he had the cool guy tabs and background, so no one in the battalion questioned him. As for the special cases, one was a PV2 pending civilian criminal proceedings. Squared away Soldier, but due to the pending case he had over two years in service and had watched his… Read more »


That third Soldier had PCS’ed to Fort Stewart as a Master Gunner-qualified E5-promotable. Unfortunately, 4th Brigade was Light, so while Master Gunner would have made him a star in one of the other brigades, it did nothing for him in the eyes of the Ranger-qualified 1SG or CSM. When he first arrived, the CSM supposedly had his promotable status revoked since he hadn’t “proved himself” to the unit. Within weeks of reporting he deployed to Afghanistan, where he rapidly went downhill, getting an Article-15 and losing his stripes altogether. Flash forward, and I become his squad leader on the same day my PSG recommends the E5(P) turned E4 be given a chance as a team leader. That night he went out to celebrate, had a couple of drinks, and Hinesville’s finest got him…DUI. Hero to “unproven NCO” to self-inflicted demotion to DUI case waiting to get chaptered.

Back to the mandatory texts. SPC “Gunner” was placed in the fire team led by my only SGT. St. Patrick’s Day weekend I’m on pass, 500 miles away, but still required to send a text to the PSG in the morning and in the evening due to the holiday. Come 1700, no word from SPC Gunner. His team leader and I tried texting, calling, and so on, while the PSG is blowing up my phone wanting to know his status. Finally, the TL calls me just before midnight. He’d gotten in touch with Gunner and they had a pissing contest. Guess the guy’s phone had died and he didn’t appreciate the tone of voice a SGT he would have outranked took. I took it upon myself to tell Gunner to contact me directly the rest of the weekend to defuse the situation.

The following week the PSG wanted to talk to us about what happened. He then proceeded to threaten me with getting fired if I ever had a Soldier report directly to me again.


So, long-winded story over. Requiring Soldiers to use personal phones to report even when those Soldiers are off-duty and/or on leave or pass is complete BS, but it is practice in some units.

Funny, but when I was issued government cell phones in recruiting and Acquisitions leadership was very hands off and rarely called or texted.


Jeez, How did we survive the Fort Ord DRF 1-9 recall times without cell phones?

Quite well, actually. Your upper leadership at 3/15 makes me glad I retired.


I’m glad to be done with it myself. Funny, I didn’t get a cell phone until I PCS’ed to Fort McNair, almost three years after enlisting. Somehow or another, the 2-hour DRF recalls in the 101st weren’t an issue. House phone, caller ID, and an answering machine, along with only brief forays out for groceries or such to avoid a missed recall worked for me, and I was an E1 when I first reported, living 18 miles from post!

That “leadership” was misguided, in my opinion, but the CSM is now serving alongside a 3-star, so he did something right.


Ok. We were Mech, so not going anywhere in less than 2 weeks bybrail and 4-ish if by ship.

But still. Sheesh. My condolences.


Cowardly micromanagement horseshit. What the fuck?

2-7 inf was a kick-ass unit in 1987. We rocked. As an E-3 on a three day weekend I was kicked loose at 1700 or so Thursday and expected to be at PT at 0600 Monday. No “safety briefing”. No calls. No check in. Leave a number where you can be reached for an alert. I had a 300-mile radius of travel without seeking approval. Fuckheads who abused trust got leashed to the degree they failed to play by the rules.

The hellscape/failscape you describe boggles my imagination. What the actual fuck happened to leadership and responsibility? Oh right.

Cowardly micromanagement horseshit

Skivvy Stacker

When I was in [pre-historic, neo-lithic period], all we had was land line phones [most without any form of recording device!!-hard to believe, but true, I swear!]. Yet, if there were to be an emergency call back while I was home on leave, I could trust my parents, or siblings to get the message to me, if for no other reason than the possibility of collecting $20,000 in Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance upon my untimely demise.
Ha ha on them…I was Supply Admin. I had a life expectancy of forever.


Reactionary BS, probably due to the battalion having incidents while deployed and immediately post-deployment, such as SPC “Gunner” above.

I had come from BDE, previously been a Recruiter, and before that was in The Old Guard, so I was used to Big Boy rules and being basically decentralized from leadership. No micromanagement, and I knew the BDE overall. 3-7 IN was cool, 6-8 CAV was cool, 703rd BSB and 4-3 BSTB cool, and 1-76 cool. HHC BDE saw me working directly with BN Ops SGMs, and later with mostly officers from the 101st and other units.

3-15 was different. I redeployed with them, having a couple of loadout bags full to the brim along with my issued ruck and duffel. What can I say? I spent the last four months as BDE Liaison to RC East and got a lot of stuff. Their CSM was walking around his Soldiers berating anyone with more than a ruck and duffel. One Battalion Scout had a commercial ruck, paid for by the battalion prior to the CSM arriving and caught all kinds of hell. I was good, since I was with higher HQ, but felt like the CSM was trying to make up for a lack of…something. Different CSM from the one when I moved down to the BN, by the way, but same messed up toxicity.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fm2176


Don’t drink and drive, don’t drink and swim, and if you get drunk, have sex and fall off the bed it’s your own fault. What’re your questions?


Stateside and most commands, no you aren’t issued a gov cell phone unless you have a specific command job requiring it or constant comms (i.e. doc or lawyer). This may vary branch to branch, but I know in the Navy we only require recall info at certain levels, i.e. your division or department must be able to get ahold of you but not necessarily someone in the triad with your direct info. This is set up to enforce and utilize the CoC.

I’ve not seen people needing to muster while on leave/liberty/pass except in extreme circumstances, but for that reason the command will have some way to reach them. The two cases I had direct experience with this being used were the earthquake in Japan back in 2011 which resulted in Fukishima and the Itaewon stampede in Oct 2022 since it was rumored (and later confirmed) that there were American fatalities and so we needed 100% accountability. But again, those were extreme circumstances.


Never mind it’s a security/OPSEC risk, but control gets careerist bureaucrats off.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anonymous
President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Watch? What watch? What is this “watch” that you speak of?

Mine is maintained in my jeans watch pocket. It is a 1914 South Bend and loses maybe one minute in two months. Doubt anyone can track me on that!

Have another, an Elgin 1887 lever-set watch that keeps perfect time as well, but leave that one in the desk as an eventual backup.

SouthBend 1914_Face.jpg

WTF..? Making someone wear some idiotic trackable dog-chip device is probably a pending legal nightmare unto itself but using what could prove to be a likely insecure/hackable, commercially off the shelf and probably built in China solution, just goes a hundred miles beyond stupid.. And as OT perfectly points out, that rather annoying tech already exists in almost all of our cell phones. Yet another hot-shot Pentagon idea that barely equates to a wiff of greenhouse gases..

BlueCord Dad

The Good Idea Fairy strikes again


I am surprised they haven’t lready chipped the troops like pets.



Sleep trackers… on soldiers? Really?

Dennis - not chevy

I held two different AFSC’s; both required I remove my watch and ring when I was on the job. I suppose I would have to wear an ankle bracelet.

Anna Puma

Yeah I can see every vehicle mechanic keep their smartwatch on while wrestling with an engine or a wheel. Not.

Green Thumb

Unsecured phones = mass blast nut photoshots.

A Proud Infidel®™

That or it “accidentally” gets fried while servicing the batteries on a vehicle – *OOPS!*.


More folks will take up magnet fishing using those strong magnets to fish stuff out of the water or scramble electronics.


Tell me how you will micromanage NCOs even more…


This is reason #34,561 why retention and enlistment are in the shitter.

Green Thumb

I would set it to report to higher every time I took a dump.


My inner E4 Mafia self says “OK, you want me to report every morning when I’m off duty? You got it, boss! Expect my call every morning at 0001.” At least, that’s if this “E4 Mafia” existed. I loves me some malicious compliance.


I loves me some malicious compliance…” and, as Terrence Popp calls it, ‘administrative violence‘.

Some ‘leaders’ like to cause unwinnable situations and wonder why nothing works out for them…


Hmmmmmm, so it can be worn in a SCIF?

Skivvy Stacker

Hm. I think my monitor would be continually having trouble with water damage, shock resistance, altitude calibration, dog consumption, and general misplacement.


“Commercial wearbles” = EMCON nightmare.


Can I take it in the SCIF with me?


Currently, No. But I suppose if GI, then maybe the policy would change.

Hack Stone

Used to predict outbreaks of infectious diseases? How would you like to be the Watch Commander in the Monitoring Center payday weekend when all of the troops show up at The Driftwood or Tony’s Brown Bagger?


A couple of comments.
I currently work in building that doesn’t allow cell phones, smart watched fitness trackers, basically anything that can transmit. There are a LOT of military facilities like this. Not just SCIFs. I’m sure these will have an exception to policy though 🙄

Secondly, didn’t the military have conniption fits a couple years back about personnel having fitness trackers down range? Something about OPSEC?

I guess the logic is “It’s not an OPSEC violation when higher directs it to be done”

Kind of like PAO posting info about our deployment before we were even wheels up. Names, hometown, where and for how long we were going to be gone, etc.