US troops deployed overseas have been banned from using GPS-enabled devices, including fitness trackers, phone applications and much more.
“Effective immediately, Defense Department personnel are prohibited from using geolocation features and functionality on government and nongovernment-issued devices, applications and services while in locations designated as operational areas,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III said in a press conference yesterday.
According to the DoD, the tracking devices -that are almost seamlessly a part of the average person’s daily life in the 21st Century- are not secure and can potentially provide important information to the enemy.
“The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the Department of Defense personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally,” Manning said. “These Global Positioning System capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines and numbers of DoD personnel. Their use in overseas locations “potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission.”
This isn’t the first time tracking-enabled devices have been noticed: one special operations source told Popular Military that tracking devices and personal phones are banned in many units- particularly ones operating under more discreet conditions.
“All it takes is one person with a run-mapping app on their phone to give away an entire unit’s location,” he said under the condition of anonymity. “I’m surprised DoD has taken as long as it has to come to this conclusion.”
The DoD will attempt to find a way to allow the personal and professional use of such devices without compromising security.
This isn’t the first time technology has potentially hindered operations- in 2015, a news reporter used a Russian soldier’s social media account to accurately pinpoint his unit’s whereabouts, ultimately proving that Russian troops had been utilized in the Ukrainian conflict that was raging at the time.
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