Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
How Smart Drugs Could Help The US Military
Smart drugs could lead to enhanced cognitive abilities in the military. Also known as nootropics, smart drugs can be viewed similarly to medical enhancements. What’s important to remember though, is that smart drugs do not increase your intelligence; however, they may improve cognitive and executive functions leading to an increase in intelligence.
I am not alone in thinking of the potential benefits of smart drugs in the military. In their popular novel Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, P.W. Singer and August Cole tell the story of a future war using drug-like nootropic implants and pills, such as Modafinil. DARPA is also experimenting with neurological technology and enhancements such as the smart drugs discussed here. As demonstrated in the following brain initiatives: Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT), Augmented Cognition, and High-quality Interface Systems such as their Next-Generational Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3).
Some of the most well-known and effective smart drugs include:
- Modafinil. Sold under names, such as Vigil or Provigil. This is a stimulant to treat narcolepsy. It has been shown to enhance executive functions. A prescription is required for Modafinil.
- Adderall. The most well-known stimulant is Adderall. It is used as a treatment for ADHD and has been shown to increase motivation in individuals. A prescription is required for Adderall.
- Racetams. The Racetams family of smart drugs include piracetam, aniracetam, oxiracetam, and phenylpiracetam. This family of smart drugs has shown potential enhancements in long-term memory, spatial memory, and working memory. A prescription is not required for this family of smart drugs.
- Alpha GPC. This smart drug possesses the potential to enhance memory formation and learning. It affects the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter derived from choline. It does not require a prescription.
- Adrafinil. Prior to Modafinil, there was Adrafinil. It produces similar effects as Modafinil; however, to a lesser degree. A prescription is not required for Adrafinil.
- Noopept. A neuropeptide with the potential to enhance discipline, memory, learning, and focus. It is similar to the Racetams family of smart drugs, yet more powerful. A prescription is not required for Noopept.
- Qualia. This smart drug is a powerful multi-nootropic (similar to a multi-vitamin). It is packed with a wide array of nootropics leading to potential enhancements in neurochemical and physiological effects. No prescription is required for Qualia.
Drug use in the military is hardly new. From the Germans' use of stimulants fueling the Nazis’ “Blitzkrieg” in France to Allied soldiers use of amphetamines (speed) in battling combat fatigue to pilots use of the same to keeping them alert during long flights.
Critics will often highlight ethical issues and the lack of scientific evidence for these drugs. Ethical arguments typically take the form of “tampering with nature.” Alena Buyx discusses this argument in a neuroethics project called Smart Drugs: Ethical Issues. She says that critics typically ask if it is ethically superior to accept what is “given” instead of striving for what is “made”. My response to this is simple. Just because it is natural does not mean it is superior.
My intent here is not to promote illegal drugs or promote the abuse of prescription drugs. In fact, I have identified which drugs require a prescription. If you are a servicemember and you take a drug (such as Modafinil and Adderall) without a prescription, then you will fail a urinalysis test. Thus, you will most likely be discharged from the military.
Instead, I urge the military to examine the use of smart drugs and the potential benefits they bring to the military. If they are safe, and pride cognitive enhancement to servicemembers, then we should discuss their use in the military. Imagine the potential benefits on the battlefield. They could potentially lead to an increase in the speed and tempo of our individual and collective OODA loop. They could improve our ability to become aware and make observations. Improve the speed of orientation and decision-making. Lastly, smart drugs could improve our ability to act and adapt to rapidly changing situations.
Maj. Jamie Schwandt, USAR, is a logistics officer and has served as an operations officer, planner and commander. He is certified as a Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, certified Red Team Member, and holds a doctorate from Kansas State University. This article represents his own personal views, which are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army.
The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.
While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.
A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.
'We are a people organization' — Army leaders push renewed focus on soldiers amid rise in sexual assaults and suicides
After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.
Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."
Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.
Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.
A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.
Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.
At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's paramilitary groups on Wednesday blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel.
The statement from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.