Biotechnology

If It's OK for Navy SEALs, Why Not College Kids?

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Slate's William Saletan sized up the Pentagon's Human Performance study and concluded that fears of genetically enhanced super humans are unfounded. Unless, of course, there's something scary about arming soldiers to the teeth and then keeping them awake for three days:

[The study]involved tests of the effects of caffeine on performance for a group of Navy SEALs, following 72 hours of intense training activity with almost total sleep deprivation. A variety of metrics were used, including computer-based tests of reaction speed and mental acuity, psychiatric self-assessment surveys, and marksmanship tests. The test was to determine the optimal caffeine dose to ameliorate the effects of fatigue and stress.

The authors of the report do their best to avoid openly condoning the use of amphetamines without a prescription, with disclaimers like this one:

The use of supplements, primarily to ameliorate sleep deprivation and to improve physical performance, is report[ed] to be common among US military personnel. This behavior is a cultural norm in the US and is recognized, but not endorsed, by the US military. For instance the PX at most military bases stock popular supplements.

But as Saletan points out, it's tricky to condemn amphetamine use when it works so well. This is one instance where the military is a little behind the curve. Attention deficit medications work much better than caffeine does when pulling an all-nighter, as reason contributor Juliet Samuel explained here.

Still unable to dismiss your fears of a military state maintained by superhuman mech warriors? Me too.

NEXT: The Massive Federal Criminal Code

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  1. In the new HBO miniseries, “Generation Kill”, they seem to prefer Twinlab Ripped Fuel, although I’m not sure if it was the Ephedra-free stuff or not.

  2. Three words:
    Captain Fucking America

  3. One benefit I imagine adderall has over caffeine, just off the top of my head, is that it doesn’t make you have to go to the bathroom all the time*

    I just finished a large iced coffee

  4. Coffee makes me twitchy. Cocaine does not.

    Cocaine wins.

  5. The authors of the report do their best to avoid openly condoning the use of amphetamines without a prescription…For instance the PX at most military bases stock popular supplements.

    You seem to be conflating caffeine with amphetamine.

    Reinmoose,
    You didn’t pour a triple espresso over ice did you? Because I’m sure the barista would have informed you, that is Not OK.

  6. Hey, amphetamines were good enough for Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

  7. Warren –
    it was from McDonald’s, actually
    *ashamed*

  8. Still unable to dismiss your fears of a military state maintained by superhuman mech warriors?

    I’ve seen Universal Soldier, and to be perfectly honest, Van Damme doesn’t frighten me at all. Lundgren, maybe.

  9. So the Army doesn’t condone supplement use, but it’s a cultural norm and the soldiers can buy them on their own dime at the PX? WTF?

    Which brand is closest to StarCraft Stims? Stsss… Aahh!

  10. These soldiers are able to chemically modify their bodies, but my chemical of choice (cannabis) is on the forbidden list.

    I was never unable to perform my duties as a result of my responsible cannabis consumption. I have several awards attesting to my “can do attitude” and how my performance “reflects credit upon himself and his chain of command.”

    At the same time I was being discharged from the Army, many soldiers were / are in various forms of trouble for alcohol abuse (fighting, failure to report, AWOL, car wrecks, etc.) and did not receive the persecution I endured from the chain of command’ love for the war on some drugs.

  11. “In the new HBO miniseries, “Generation Kill”, they seem to prefer Twinlab Ripped Fuel, although I’m not sure if it was the Ephedra-free stuff or not.”

    I saw the premier, pretty good stuff, even though they are Marines, I saw the same kinds of characters in the Army. The Sergeant Major and God Father immediately come to mind.

    During the mail call sequence, I could have sworn that the list of things people were waiting for included, “hash chunks”. Did anyone else catch that?

  12. During the mail call sequence, I could have sworn that the list of things people were waiting for included, “hash chunks”. Did anyone else catch that?

    Yup. That is indeed what he said.

  13. zig zag,

    Surely you’re not implying that there is some double standard at work regarding different intoxicants? Within the federal government?

  14. No speed = No Johnny Cash

  15. Serously, who thought that nobody was going to try to make power-suits a la Starship Troopers and all those insano anime series?

    Three words:
    Captain Fucking America

    Four words:

    Captain Hammer: Corporate Tool

  16. zig zag man, I’m with ya. Believe me.

    Myself, when I pulled CQ at my old unit, I’d usually drink 3 Monsters consecutively. I remember one time drinking Rip-Its (the orange ones) until I damn near threw up. It’s mostly Taurine, Ginseng, that kind of shit in there.

    Three words:
    Captain Fucking America

    I should’ve asked about the Super Soldier program when I was at MEPS.

  17. Serously, who thought that nobody was going to try to make power-suits a la Starship Troopers and all those insano anime series?

    Where have you been? The Army is already working on Imperial Stormtrooper outfits. Powered Armor is the obvious next step.

  18. Does this mean we can waterboard college students?

    I hear this is the hot new thing in hazing.

  19. Yeah, I hear if your roomate gets sent to gitmo, you get like an automatic 4.0, man.

  20. Super soldier serum turning up in the new Hulk movie was pretty fucking smooth

  21. College kids VS Navy SEALS—-what is the question here? Any enhancement via caffeine for our troops is OK in my book. Uncle Sam does not condone drug abuse. And if a college kid can’t stay up 72 hours who cares? Our military does it on a regular basis and must to protect our freedom. What do college kids do for our country and our freedoms?

  22. Damn, you SEALS are beasts. I will say that personally after about 30 hours I’m no longer “combat-effective.” Because, at that point, I’m pretty much crazy.

    And I didn’t study like I should’ve in college. Oh well, still graduated.

  23. Mr. Nice Guy,

    Indeed. I’ve really dug what Marvel has been doing lately.

  24. Former Seal,

    some of those college kids have summer jobs and go on to have careers. you know: they’re taxpayers.

    Art and MNG,

    I think I’ve heard that an Avengers movie is being set up?

  25. Our military does it on a regular basis and must to protect our freedom. What do college kids do for our country and our freedoms?

    1) What the fuck does that have to do with whether they should be allowed to use a substance or not?
    2) What do they do for our country? Well, most of them DON’T live off the taxpayers, which automatically gives them points in my book. Plus, most of them actually ADD to our society.

    But, yeah, only SEALs do anything for this country..

  26. I think I’ve heard that an Avengers movie is being set up?

    The appearance of Tony Stark at the end of The Incredible Hulk suggests this. As does the “hidden scene” that I was told was after the credits in Iron Man. The imdb page on the Avengers movie suggests that it’s still in early planning stages. Doctor Strange is close by comparison.

  27. Coffee is a wonder drug for me. No matter how groggy I feel at 4:45 am even the smell of brewed coffee energizes me. Three cups max by 9am is all I need. I do not understand using meth or any speed (illegal and could lead to death by gunfire) when several cups of coffee jacked me up…my girlfriend knows when I have had too many cups as she sticks her forefinger between my eyes and says “Slow Down…”

  28. “Surely you’re not implying that there is some double standard at work regarding different intoxicants? Within the federal government?”

    Why yes, yes I am.

  29. the college kids used to protect our freedoms by protesting. then the cia invented nintendo
    and now we get questions like former seal’s

    this site has really warped me. i thought former seal was snarking

  30. Still unable to dismiss your fears of a military state maintained by superhuman mech warriors?

    Fears? When I was a kid, I hoped the future would consist of people in superpowered robot exoskeletons or with cybernetic enhancements punching one another through walls. The non-stop way.

  31. Captain Fucking America… word.

    Sad thing is, they not only stock up the PX system with illegal drugs, they stocked up half the gulf vets with DU and lie about it. They call it Gulf War Syndrome, which is nothing more than a PR campaign called Bronze Anvil. The EU actually has standards now for BQ levels. The USA doesn’t. Odd huh?

  32. Bronze Anvil is the name of a PR, R backwards, award. You sure you don’t mean they applied for this award so proud were they of their evil activities?

    5 May 2010 ? A NEW MODEL FOR GULF WAR SYNDROME: CHLORPYRIFOS AFFECTS LOCUS ….. to have had high exposures to depleted uranium (DU) toxic waste on Gulf War ….. that the military actually sought a “Bronze Anvil” award for military …

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