Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog:

"I had read that in Vietnam, some soldiers would take amphetamines to give them better night vision. I don't know if its true or not, but my brother, who was known to take an illegal drug or 2 back in college swore that if you took upper in Canada, you could see the lights flicker due to their different watts/amps/volts or something."

GI's taking "speed" in Nam is probably so. At that time, certain "drugs" now illegal to possess or use WERE LEGAL. "Speed" was a common and widely misused drug prescribed by doctors for weight loss in women. A GI in Nam, if he had "sources", could have gotten speed. NOT for improved night vision however. The GI would take amphetamines for staying awake during night sentry duty, etc. IF night vision was enhanced, it was incidental.

I have also heard that amphetamines were a standard issue to troops such as the Green Berets [Special Forces [SF]]. Issued with the warning that these drugs were to be used ONLY in the most exceptional of circumstances. Warranted considering the nature of missions and duties given to Special Forces troops. SF troops by their nature are very disciplined. YOU COULD COUNT on them to not abuse or become dependent on "speed".

The whole issue of issuing drugs to GI's to enhance combat performance would be something more or less verboten for military planners. The fear is that drugs are NOT controllable. Abuse and dependency would become the rule.

[at one time, American troops in West Germany would be issued amyl nitrate capsules ["poppers"] as part of their chemical warfare antidote kit. Each troop would be given eight capsules. To counter-act the use of blood agent [hydrogen cyanide]. Troops were told to use them only when needed. When taken by themselves, without the troop being exposed to blood agent first, the "poppers" produce a temporary high. Especially during the late 1960's, it was determined troops were using the "poppers" indiscriminately and the standard issue had to be taken away. This is what commanders are afraid of!]

Even the issuance of something called a "go pill" to American pilots ferrying single seat fighter aircraft across the Atlantic was controversial.

The image was of "hopped up" drugged pilots endangering commercial flights during a "stoned" state.

This was just not true. Air Force pilots ferrying such aircraft WERE issued "go pills". But sounded only like a super-caffeine pill. Each pill had the equivalent of three cups of coffee. And the pilots were issued only three pills for each flight. To be taken if necessary, for fatigue, at the pilots discretion. That is NOT dangerous.

It would be interesting to see if someone has systematically cataloged the different drugs available or being researched that would enhance a soldiers ability on the battlefield. Provide bursts of strength, endurance, better visual or auditory acuity, etc.

Hell, if the Zulu "witch doctors" had a whole kit bag of pharmacology at the readiness when Shaka gave the go signal for war, why not MODERNS??

Again, the problem is abuse, and un-controllability.

[the CIA had at one time thought that LSD was the magic bullet answer to the interrogation problem. Get a person to talk and make them talk "the truth" when the subject did not want to. But it was found LSD was uncontrollable.]

[the January 2005 issue of the National Geographic has an article on the subject of caffeine. Has a photo of a squad of Canadian soldiers who look really tired and "beat".] The caption reads:

"Allowed just three hours of sleep in 52 hours of running, target shooting, and vigilance exercises, weary soldiers in Canada's Operation Nighthawk test chewing gum with 100 milligrams of caffeine per stick as a "fatigue counter-measure." Absorbed through the mouth, chewed caffeine goes to work three times faster than caffeine in drinks or pills."

Caffeine in our society, a drug, is considered to be NOT bad and is totally legal. This sort of thing as a "fatigue counter-measure" is totally acceptable. Other drugs - - NO!!



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