May 9, 2023

Key Takeaways from the 2023 H2F Symposium

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) recently hosted the 2023 Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) Symposium at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia. Presentations from Army leaders showed that the service has widely embraced the need for human performance optimization (HPO) and recognizes the important part technology plays in data-driven preparation, training, and recovery. 

In the early days of H2F, most of the conversation revolved around why it was necessary and if there was enough evidence that it could impact physical, mental, and spiritual readiness. This year’s presentations demonstrated that Army leadership has moved beyond this. 

The positive impact H2F initiatives have on force readiness is clear. Now the focus has shifted to how to unite H2F systems, people, and processes and implement them at scale. 

Going Beyond the Physical Pillar

TRADOC’s focus used to be firmly on the physical element of service member preparedness. While this is still a key component and the Army is trying to tackle high injury rates (particularly among new recruits), leaders have recognized that the other H2F pillars – such as sleep and nutrition – also play a key role

Educating service members about the importance of fueling adequately and providing personalized meals have the potential to improve performance. Integrating sleep data from wearables into a HP Data Management System (HP DMS) and combining it with other data points like HRV helps H2F staff monitor service members’ recovery. 

Pulling in Human Performance Expertise

While a deep understanding of military culture is necessary, the Army is recognizing the opportunity to effectively partner with domain experts with different backgrounds, specifically elite sports. In a presentation on the nutrition pillar, performance dietician Christi Logan explained how utilizing third-party practitioners and vendors, like Notemeal and Smartabase, that have high-performance expertise in both tactical and elite sports environments has benefited the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. 

When a program director can leverage such resources, they’re more likely to build and implement a solid, evidence-based framework that enables them to execute on their commander’s intent and improve service members’ readiness and wellbeing through H2F. 

Understanding the Tech Ecosystem

Initially, utilizing technology in H2F was all about data collection and the devices needed to accomplish this. Now, military leadership is realizing that how this data is managed, integrated, visualized, and applied is just as important, if not more so. 

According to a presentation by Dr. Andrew Thompson, Research Physiologist from the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT), and Mr. George Matook, MASTR-E Program Manager from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), the U.S. Army has developed a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the technology ecosystem. This includes the crucial role platforms like Smartabase and its Clearinghouse play in capturing, consolidating, and presenting service member data to inform accurate and timely decision-making. 

Supporting the Spiritual Domain

Spiritual readiness is one of the H2F domains receiving increased attention. Research included in a presentation by Major General Thomas L. Solhjem, Chief of Chaplains, demonstrates that belief in a higher power acts as a coping tool to reduce the incidence of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. 

As they collect and interpret more data from tools like the Spiritual Readiness Assessment (SRA), young chaplains will drive the evolution of the spiritual domain and be better equipped to target interventions to service members who need help and support. They are also connecting spiritual inputs to better outputs in other domains. 

It’s clear that the U.S. Army’s leadership is fully committed to H2F and including technology in effective programs that improve service members’ physical, mental, and spiritual readiness. To learn more about how Smartabase and Notemeal support H2F programs, contact us today.

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