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Building the Hyper-Capable Operator: Should the Military Enhance Its Special Operations Warriors?

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[Technical Report, Research Paper]

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Warfighting technologies have been improving since the dawn of mankind, and modern warfare is now more complex, interconnected, and faster paced than ever before. Minor tactical actions produce profound strategic results, both positive and negative. At the knifes edge of this complex environment is Americas special operations forces SOF. Despite exquisite training and enhanced battlefield technology, the actual SOF operator remains a Human v1.0. As such, the American military must deliberately implement a biological Human Enhancement HE program for its special operations warriors, and build the Hyper-Capable Operator. SOF is the appropriate organization to run such a program due to its peculiar culture, already present support structure, and high consequence of its operations. Addressing the ethical concerns of such a program, this study examines the issue through the lenses of the individual soldier and the military organization. Numerous HE technologies with appreciable military utility, both cognitive and musculoskeletal, are presented. The permanence of any enhancement is of topmost concern, due to its cascading impacts upon the soldier, the military, and society. Additionally, the soldiers decision-making autonomy should never be compromised via an enhancement. Finally, this study delivers specific policy recommendations, to include the use of volunteers and safeguards against coercion, for the implementation of such a program.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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[A, Approved For Public Release]