Saturday, May 03, 2008

Universal Soldier

I have a dark secret, I love trashy action movies, scifi flicks and horror films. (Techies one and all admit this without a problem.) One of the "best" is the 1992 epic titled Universal Solder starring Jean Claude Van Damme (the good guy) and Dolph Lundgren, (the bad). Seems these soldiers were chemically amped to the nth degree, fed muscular enhancements to give them super human strength and drugged to the nth degree to obey orders without question. (OBTH, They are reanimated dead guys.)

Flash forwarding to 2008, it looks like the military is doing the same thing (partially) by juicing up soldiers to deal with the extremities of war with little regard for the inevitable blowback that accompanies the use of drugs.

"As the chemical interventions grow bolder and more sophisticated, we should not be surprised that some are beginning to cast their eyes beyond droopy eyelids and sore muscles. Chief among the new horizons is the alluring notion of psychological prophylactics: drugs used to pre-empt the often nasty effects of combat stress on soldiers, particularly that perennial veteran's bugaboo known as post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome. In the U.S., where roughly two-fifths of troops returning from combat deployments are presenting serious mental health problems, PTSD has gone political in form of the Psychological Kevlar Act, which would direct the Secretary of Defense to implement "preventive and early-intervention measures" to protect troops against "stress-related psychopathologies."

Proponents of the "Psychological Kevlar" approach to PTSD may have found a silver bullet in the form of propranolol, a 50-year-old beta-blocker used on-label to treat high blood pressure, and off-label as a stress-buster for performers and exam-takers. Ongoing psychiatric research has intriguingly suggested that a dose of propranolol, taken soon after a harrowing event, can suppress the victim's stress response and effectively block the physiological process that makes certain memories intense and intrusive. That the drug is cheap and well tolerated is icing on the cake."

As per the AlterNet article, a cool $160 billion is being pumped into the program with the army taking the lead on this risky enterprise. Other tech being developed include exoskeletons, remote control unmanned aircraft and autonomous intelligent weapons. (Skynet)

A good site to see the full array of tech being developed for war is FCS (Future Combat Systems), an environment both fascinating and chilling in its intent.

For more BRT info on weapondry, click here and here.

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