Skip to comments.Soldiers of the Future: Genetic Tests Might Help Pinpoint Strengths, Weaknesses
Posted on 08/02/2012 6:00:22 AM PDT by jmcenanly
Battalions of super-soldiers could be selected for specific duties on the basis of their genetic make-up and then constantly monitored for signs of weakness. So says a report by the U.S. National Academies of Science (NAS). If a soldier is struggling, a digital "buddy" might step in to warn about nearby threats, or advise comrades to zap the soldier with an electromagnet to increase his alertness. If the whole unit is falling apart, biosensors could warn central commanders to send in a replacement team.
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Will the digital “buddy” help women soldiers throw the grenade further so the shrapnel won’t injure her comrades? Or will the programmers insert a “political correctness” subroutine to ignore the problem?
All very interesting and probably good if used properly, but like the law of physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
One thing that pops to mind is that you can’t measure the amount of “heart” or attitude a person has. I’ve read where a lot of the superman/physical specimen types wash out of SEAL or other special forces training, NOT because they didn’t possess the physical tools, but because they didn’t have the heart or never say die attitude.
The same is true in battle. You may have a group of guys who are malnurished, heart rates elevated, etc, but are still giving it to the enemy greater then what they are receiving.
They’re going to look at Soldier’s brains? There won’t be a general or admiral left.
This sort of nonsense has been a pseudo-science fantasy for years, by people who know combat soldiers only from what they have read in Sgt. Rock comic books.
On the plus side, in practice the fantasy meets reality like a grasshopper meets a car windshield at 70 mph.
The first flawed axiom is to assume that combat soldiers are pimply faced, pale, undisciplined, flabby and overweight video game nerds, when the reality is that they are *already* “super soldiers”, who are astoundingly capable on the battlefield with just a rifle and ammunition. Anything else is a big bonus.
They are also highly motivated, creative and pragmatic. There have been several instances when an enemy attack wipes out all of a unit’s leaders, and the Privates take charge and effectively continue the fight.
The “common kit” for an infantry soldier weighs something like 200 pounds, impossible for them to take into combat. So they have to figure out what they need *this* time. Often it is pretty much just their rifle and ammunition, because speed and mobility is essential, this time.
Iraq and Afghanistan actually did provide a huge research and development lab for innovation, and the military came up with some real breakthroughs in technology, something rather rare in a line of work thousands of years old.
One of these major advances was a common PDA, which in a decade went through at least 8 generations to come up with a tool that gives combat units incredible power. Especially when teamed with another innovation, drone aircraft, it imparts total battlefield awareness, as big a leap as that from bronze swords to iron swords.
Closer to the speculation of the article was a simple unit communications system inside the helmet of soldiers. By being able to give commands and guidance a lot faster, the highly trained soldiers could run circles around their uncoordinated enemy. Operating as a unit instead of just as individuals and at great speed.
So compare the, by now, somewhat mundane reality to the speculation.
As a final note, the powered exoskeleton technology has long made me snicker, because while it is sold on the idea of being used by combat soldiers, it is pretty useless for that. However, it would be extremely useful for rear area logistics.
But how boring! Instead of needing dozens of men to transfer heavy equipment from a railroad flatcar to trucks, taking the better part of a day, three guys with exoskeletons could do that in an hour. Very mundane, but it would have a huge impact on combat operations, getting supplies and materials to where they are needed faster.
This is how battles and wars are won.