Biometric health data and artificial intelligence may offer the Army new ways to assess soldier readiness, the service’s incoming top enlisted leader said at a press conference Wednesday.
Command Sgt. Michael Weimer was previously the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s top enlisted officer. He assumes his duties as Sergeant Major of the Army today, taking over from outgoing Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston
“I’m a tech person, I’m a data person,” Weimer said.
Weimer explained how he participated in sleep research and wore the Oura Ring, an wearable sleep monitor.
“I conducted a study on sleep because it is so important,” Weimer explained. “I need to make sure I’m sleeping to be the leader that I want.”
Weimer also described how USASOC had used health monitoring technology to protect Special Operations candidates during their strenuous selection process.
The command first collected baseline data, then used that information to make decisions about candidates’ health.
“We are seeing anomalies that don’t seem right on the sixth day of training,” Weimer explained, adding that these events led to candidates being referred to doctors. The technology may also be helpful in identifying cases of heat exhaustion or underlying heart conditions, he said.
In April, USASOC’s human performance and wellness unit told Defense One they had distributed Oura rings to soldiers to help them better track how much rest they were getting.
Weimer noted that similar programs are being discussed to monitor the health of Army Aviators.
The Army may also seek to combine artificial intelligence with the data it collects on health, Weimer said: “Artificial intelligence is absolutely going to assist us,”
Still, the incoming Sergeant Major of the Army cautioned that the service must move deliberately when it comes to incorporating data into its readiness assessments, noting that one sleep doctor discounted data from wearable trackers as providing an incomplete picture.
“We tend to be impatient and want things to happen quickly. Weimer explained that we must understand the collected data. How much can I rely on it to make decisions?
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