Fans of the Jason Bourne movies, are familiar with the scenario.
Bourne, a rogue deep cover agent, boasts near superhuman powers, thanks to his highly trained and unconscious sense of awareness — all part of a fictional secret effort called operation “Treadstone.”
As fellow CIA agent Nicky Parsons says: “They don’t make mistakes. They don’t do random. There’s always an objective. Always a target.”
While that sounds great for a movie serious, it does sound a bit of a stretch in the real world.
Or is it?
It has published a new training circular that contains a section on how soldiers can train their senses to new levels of awareness, enabling them to almost unconsciously perceive small details about their surroundings in a near-superhuman manner.
Or, as one scientist described — just like Jason Bourne, Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan, all rolled into one.
Other sections of the circular describe how cultural anthropology, the study of world religions, and even Gestalt psychology, can be leveraged in Army training in order to make soldiers into what some might call “warrior monks” with near-preternatural deductive reasoning ability, War Zone reported.
While many will scoff at these ideas, the document cites numerous case studies of soldiers in the field in which a greater sense of situational awareness could have saved lives.
Furthermore, the Army is already offering training courses in this new type of Advanced Situational Awareness (ASA) at Fort Benning in Georgia, which is home to the service’s Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE).
MCoE oversees the Army’s Infantry and Armor Schools, among other responsibilities, War Zone reported.
The training circular, published by the Headquarters of the Department of the Army this month, outlines a variety of techniques and requirements through which soldiers can learn Advanced Situational Awareness training methods of optimizing human performance “through building the skills necessary to develop agile, resilient, adaptive, and innovative Soldiers who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos.”
The document mostly focuses on ways by which soldiers can optimize and heighten their observation skills, enabling them to respond to anomalies or recognize unusual behaviors or objects that may present a threat more quickly, War Zone reoprted.
Using this training, the document writes, soldiers can “achieve a better understanding of their organic equipment and system: their capabilities, limitations, and components.”
This heightened sensory perception “can lead to a new level of “Advanced Situational Awareness,” the circular claims, which “can be crucial to Soldier survival, as use of the sensory system provides input into a soldier’s decision-making process.”
The document touches upon various facets of cognitive and Gestalt psychology, neuroscience, and even sociology in an attempt to develop ways through which soldiers can heighten their perception of their environments, War Zone reported.
The ASA training circular even recommends studies in theology, anthropology, and cultural studies as ways to better understand the motivations of human actors that soldiers may encounter in an overseas operation.
Case studies are presented that highlight how better cross-cultural understanding and perception abilities may have prevented terror attacks in several overseas theaters, noting that sometimes recognizing an odd piece of debris by a roadside could have been the deciding factor in saving service members’ lives, War Zone reported.
However, somewhat stranger sections of the document outline ways soldiers may be able to attune or train their sensory perception in order to respond to threats on a near-unconscious level.
“A soldier typically only uses 2 percent of the potential provided by the sense of smell,” the training circular reads.
“Despite the fact that these senses are underutilized, they still provide useful target indicators. For example, cooking food, fires, cigarettes, aftershave lotion, soap, and insect repellents can indicate the presence of people.”
Meanwhile, the US is not the only nation exploring the possibility of super soldiers.
According to intelligence officials in the US, China has conducted testing on its army in the hope of creating biologically enhanced soldiers.
John Ratcliffe, a loyalist who had served as President Trump’s director of national intelligence, made the claims in a newspaper editorial, where he warned that China “poses the greatest threat to America today,” The Guardian reported.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ratcliffe said: “The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Ratcliffe said China had gone to extraordinary lengths to achieve its goal, The Guardian reported.
“US intelligence shows that China has even conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities,” Ratcliffe wrote.
“There are no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power.”