When it comes to entertaining soldiers, the Army’s Public Affairs ranks somewhere above a makeshift library -filled with donated romance novels- on a remote outpost in Afghanistan. For that reason, when they actually pulled off a hilarious joke, nobody even realized it was a joke.
Even I fell for the ruse, initially not considering the possibility that the ridiculous story I was reading could be well-played hoax by the normally dull, press release pumping, Army Public Affairs.
On April 1st (give me a break; I didn’t read it until after April Fool’s day), the Army published “Army to issue PT bracelet with 24/7 fitness tracking, remote mentoring.”
A statement describing the Army’s new device said:
“Army officials on Saturday announced it will soon field this personal fitness bracelet that will allow Army leaders to track their Soldiers’ fitness in real time. The technology will enable Army leadership to monitor their Soldiers’ activity level, physical location, and intake of foods, liquids, and other substances.”
Seems legitimate, right? That’s what I thought until I got a glimpse of this so-called PT bracelet. This is when the first red flag was raised.
I asked myself: Why would the Army put a PT belt on a fitness tracker? Are they really that absurdly out of touch with what their soldiers think? After a brief moment of feeling perplexed, I thought, “yes, this is the Army. They would do something this dumb.”
The Army announces to the world they have created a fitness bracelet better than anything ever created by Apple, Google, or any other corporation that actually produces technology that does not look like a cinder-block mated with a toaster oven from 1959:
“The technology will enable Army leadership to monitor their Soldiers’ activity level, physical location, and intake of foods, liquids, and other substances. It also allows leaders to provide remote mentoring in real time, according to Dr. Duke McDirkington, the lead scientific advisor from the U.S. Army’s Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, or USARIEM, and the co-chair of the Army’s Physical Training Belt Task Force.”
Dr. Duke “Mc-Dirk-ing-ton?” Huh? Seems legit, possibly because my mind has now been distracted by thoughts of how I am going to tell the army B.O.H.I.C.A. But then, Dr. “Mc-Dirk-ing-ton” clearly gave himself away as being an impostor.
“We know for a fact through scientific research and polls that Soldiers already love the ‘PT’ Belt,” McDirkington said.
At this point I could not contain my laughter and as it subsided, I thought out loud, “well played Army…well played.”
“The bracelets blend perfectly with our PT belts, increasing safety for our Soldiers and survivability during physical training,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, who expressed enthusiasm about the potential of the new technology.
At this point, anyone in the Army or who has served in the Army would think that there is no way anyone could still fall for this ruse after reading those statements. Sgt. Maj. Dailey, the man who gave the Army their rolled sleeves back and is considering approving beards, is nowhere near that out of tune with his soldiers’ thoughts and wishes.
Not true though. Plenty of military-centric media still do not get the joke and blindly accept that scientific research proved that soldiers love their PT belts more than their woobies.
Clarksville Online (dedicated to the community surrounding Fort Campbell), Hawaii Army Weekly, and Clarksville Now all published stories to tell the Army of their new fashionable bracelet that will track their every movement. Two of them have since removed the stories from their website, but Google’s indexing still shows the Army pranked them.
Depsite the Army attempting an April Fool’s joke every year, these publications were still duped, but to give them credit this was the most plausible story of them all.
Last year, the Army failed miserably at attempting an April Fool’s joke. Their story,”BREAKING: Army scientists successfully ‘teleport’ Soldiers,” claimed a fully equipped squad of soldiers was successfully teleported from a training facility in Massachusetts to Germany.
But for those who believed it, the army was supposed to report its initial findings “by April Fools’ Day, 2017.” For those who would like to get their hands on a sporty PT bracelet fitness tracker, you can expect an “Army-wide rollout on April 1, 2018.”
I can’t promise that you will see those bracelets in April next year, but I can promise the Army will publish a story that some gullible folks will believe.
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