The use of natural, chemical and pharmaceutical substances, even drugs, for the improvement of soldiers’ stamina and performance has been a well known practice throughout the years.
Many substances, from coffee to tablets of amphetamines, have been used in numerous occasions ranging from the ancient Assassins to US Navy and Airforce pilots in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The increase of the soldiers’ stamina and the possibility for them to stay awake for many hours were examined in many military camps during the 2nd World War. German scientists used some soldiers as guinea pigs and developed a coctail which was a mix of cocaine, amphetamine, perbitinis and a painkiller based in morphine. This preparation was named D-IX and was tested in Sachsenhausen camp in the end of 1944. Some inmates of the camp were supplied with D-IX and managed to walk for 100 Kms charged carrying a weight of 20Kg. Most of them got tired after 24 hours of continuous hard activity. Germany was ruined and the war ended. Therefore the D-IX was never used in a wide scale. However, some simpler but equally dangerous substances, such as the amphetamines, have still been in use in a lot of cases.
During 2nd World War, almost 72 millions pills of amphetamines had been distributed in the British armed forces. Amphetamines were also used by German and Japanese forces in WWII, and by U.S. troops, in the wars of Korea and Vietnam.
Recently, in the war in Afghanistan, American pilots had in their possession amphetamines and tranquilizing pills. They managed to increase their reflexes and ensure some rest in order to take part in the next mission.
One chapter in the official handbook of Pentagon mentions: “… the ability of resistance in the feeling of lack of sleep will dramatically change the existing military perception…the ability of effective battles without the need of sleep will constitute a revolutionary development in the military world in the 21st century…”.
However, a lot of accidents have occurred during battles in Kosovo and Afghanistan that were related with the increased aggressiveness of some pilots addicted to these chemical substances. Some soldiers presented increased aggressiveness in their behaviour even towards the members of their family when they returned from battles. These symptoms are similar to those who are addicted in drugs.
Unfortunately, this is not a nightmare scenario from the future but an existing reality with a not very well known but very existing past