Altered Soldiers - an interesting article at Anticipatory Retaliation:
While y'all might wonder about why it is that such a big fuss is being made over better drugs, consider that battle fatigue and its closely related cousin good old-fashioned fatigue can account for the majority of combat ineffective men in a unit that has been continuously engaged in combat for more than a few weeks. In addition to this, if you can get a reliable 24 hours per day out of each soldier, you're getting at least one-third more of combat-effective man-hours per soldier. That means you get 1/3 more out of each meal, each training course and each what ever other support a soldier needs. The equivalent effect in getting rid of the sleep problem and the night-fighting problem is that you go from perhaps 12 combat hours per man per day to 24.
More productivity is a big deal for two classes of soldiers: those with the most extensive/expensive training, and those facing other soldiers. The pilots and the grunts, in other words. It's also nice for other soldiers, but they don't benefit relatively as much - you can just hire more of them to get burst capacity.

Ant doesn't talk about why wakey-drugs will be such a big deal for combat soldier, at least not directly. To understand this more clearly, let's detour into golf for a minute. Remember the recent Sorenstam brouhaha? At the time I linked up Steve Sailor, who used geek methods to predict her performance - perfectly, as it happened. He made the point at the time that golf is not like many sports in that you are not playing the other competitors - you are playing the field. Competitors are then ranked according to how they each do against the field, not each other. So it is relatively easy to analyze courses and players' historical performances on them, and predict how they will do in the future (which is how he predicted Sorenstam's performance). On the other hand, it is much more difficult to predict directly competitive sports. A small increase in ability doesn't necessarily result in a small increase in performance: it may make all the difference. A boxer who gets 2% better doesn't end up winning 2% more rounds and then maybe winning the match because of that. Instead he wins almost all the rounds, or even KOs his opponent early.

With soldiers who are performing abstract missions like flying airplanes unopposed, the right analogy is to golf, track, etc. - you're playing the field. Getting 30% more performance is just that. With combat missions, though, things are different. Being alert on day 2, when your enemy is not, doesn't just mean you take 30% fewer casualties and the enemy 30% more. It means you sneak up on him while he drowses, and you get a slightly bruised hand while he gets his throat cut.

No comments: