Whereas the tools and weapons that are used by our warfighters have evolved dramatically in the past few decades, the way in which the warfighter is prepared has not kept pace with those developments. The Measuring Biological Aptitude (MBA) program aims to address the need for a more capable fighting force by helping individual warfighters identify, measure, and track personalized biomarkers related to training and peak performance for specialized roles. If the program succeeds, MBA technologies will give warfighters the ability to understand the underlying biological processes that govern their performance. Specifically, these technologies would elucidate the internal expression circuits (e.g., genetic, epigenetic, metabolomic) that shape militarily relevant cognitive, behavioral, and physical traits. New devices for continuously tracking these expression circuits could be integrated into the body to provide instantaneous user feedback, helping the warfighter to improve performance throughout training, assessment, selection, and mission execution for a given military specialty.
Successful MBA technologies would change how the Department of Defense understands individual warfighters, updating a more than 50-year-old evaluation system that is based on inadequate screening and aptitude tests supplemented by annual medical examinations. This long-awaited modernization of performance measurement would provide a complete picture of the warfighter, tying performance traits to myriad signaling networks in the body that drive specific aspects of performance. MBA could ultimately enable both individual warfighters and the department to fully understand what to measure during training, mission execution, and recovery to maximize long-term success in specialized roles.
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