The Air Force is looking to harness advances in bio-science so they can “degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm enemy cognitive abilities.” It’s all part of a $49 million dollar bio-research effort unveiled last month by the Air Force Research Lab’s “Human Effectiveness Directorate,” and it’s the latest in a series of out-there military ideas to mess with adversaries’ heads.
For years, armed forces and intelligence community researchers have toyed with ways of manipulating minds. During the Cold War, the CIA and the military allegedly plied the unwitting with acid, weed, and dozens of psychoactive drugs, in a series of zany (and sometimes dangerous) mind-control experiments. In the 1970s and 80s, a small group of special operations soldiers at Ft. Bragg supposedly tried to teach themselves how to kill with psychic power – the basis for the upcoming movie The Men Who Stare at Goats. In 1994, one Air Force researcher proposed spraying enemies with “strong aphrodisiacs [which] caused homosexual behavior.” Last year, the National Research Council and Defense Intelligence Agency pushed for pharma-based tactics to weaken enemy forces.
This new Air Force project looks to do just that – and boost the cognitive abilities of U.S. troops at the same time. One component of the research effort, called Biobehavioral Performance, is looking for military specimens who are already resistant to physical or mental stressors. By analyzing the biochemical brain pathways of troops who are cool under pressure, the Air Force wants an “external stimulant” that can act as a synthetic version of optimal cognitive stress response and keep airmen operating at top level.
Resisting stress is good, but destroying your enemy with stress is even better. “Conversely, the chemical pathway area could include methods to degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm enemy cognitive capabilities,” the Air Force call for proposals notes. No further details are given. Researchers will just have to be creative, if they want to look for ways to turn military foes insane in the membrane.