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Thread: We Cannot Allow a Sleep Gap!

  1. #1
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    Default We Cannot Allow a Sleep Gap!

    Seriously, this is an interesting - and a rather underappreciated - subject that was examined recently by the JASON panel: Human Performance, JSR-07-625, March 2008.

    Non-medical applications of the advances of neuroscience research and medical technology also pose the potential for use by adversaries. In this context, we must consider the possibility that uses that we would consider unacceptable could be developed or applied either by a state-adversary, or by less-easily identified terrorist groups. In the following, we consider first the issues of what types of human performance modification might alter a military balance, and how those issues can be evaluated. We then address two broad areas where there are significant, and highly publicized, advances in human performance modification. These are the areas of brain plasticity (permanently changing the function of an individual’s brain, either by training or by pharmaceuticals), and the area of brain-computer interface (augmenting normal performance via an external device directly linked to the nervous system). The present status of technology in these areas is evaluated, and the context for potential threats in the future is described. As will be seen, there are no serious immediate threats, however the advance of technology and the accompanying commercial interest, are such that close attention must be paid to the future potential for threats.

    In The RCR, we were lectured that a soldier was supposed to retain more or less full combat efficiency for a period of 7-10 days on 1 1/2 to 2 hours' sleep a day; the basis for this "standard" was that it had all been tested and verified by the Canadian Forces Civil and Military Medical Institute. Needless to say such a claim attracted doubts amongst soldiers, for all sorts of reasons and considerations. That said, if a foreign adversary were able to devise means by which to reduce their soldiers' (or operatives') need for sleep or at least to very substantially increase their capacity for awareness for much longer periods of time than is normal, this could make quite a difference at the tactical level, at least in the short term.

  2. #2
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Here is a link to a really good study on fatigue when riding a motorcycle long distances rapidly. Now before you say "so what" it is by Vice Admiral Don Arthur, former Surgeon General of the United States Navy. This is likley the best real world written study on the topic I have EVER seen. For Spec Ops, and the average war fighter this little PDF should be MANDATORY reading. Yeah, it's about motorcycles, but it applies to everybody.

    ETA: Don't put those motorcyclists off. They are experts at fatigue management as a group.
    Last edited by selil; 06-06-2008 at 12:01 AM.
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    To put a number or ratio on this - x number of hours for y number of days - seems highly subjective to the point of not being practical. It seems that the threshold for minimum amount of sleep while retaining effectiveness is driven more by leadership and circumstances than in some physiological norm. I recall several occasions in Iraq when I was talking to someone and fell asleep in mid-sentence and then realized that I had been awake for several days (when you do most operations at night, spend most of the daylight in a building where the windows are sandbagged, and operations are driven by the situation, rather than a battle rhythm, it is extremely easy to miss out on sunrises/sunsets and lose track of days). On the other hand, at Fort Benning I could get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night and still not be able to stay awake for more than 45 minutes in building snore (4).

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Very interesting stuff, especially the motorcycle fatigue stuff. Even better that I could read it in less than 30 minutes.

    Quite a bit of that relates to my community, where 16-20 hours of continuous roadmarching while standing in the turret wasn't uncommon. In fact, the fatigue mitigation recommendations make all the sense in the world as I look back and remember getting fatigued more during high-speed runs approaching the LAV tops speed. I know the sensation of falling asleep standing up, and it ain't fun.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    I tried to read it, but I fell asleep.

    Tip your waitress.....
    Example is better than precept.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    Tip your waitress.....
    Crab Cake to show in the 7th.

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    Default Blame it on Night Vision capability!

    Our night vision capability gives our forces such a distinct advantage over the insurgents and the Taliban, that we can't pass up the opportunity to use it. The trouble is that we don't know when/how to stand down during the day. This is exacerbated by the guys in the TOC, who probably don't give a damn about sleep deprivation, nor its lingering effects, on the maneuver forces. So, they plan operations round the clock; and keep the officers and NCOs, who are commanding maneuver forces, in Prep mode or in extensive after-action debriefings when these guys should be getting some rest themselves.

    "Fatigue makes cowards of us all!"

    Everything I learned about the adverse consequences of sleep deprivation, I learned in Ranger School. Everything I learned about patrolling, tracking, concealment and intelligence gathering, I learned in Recondo School. In the former, we just endured and struggled to stay awake. In the latter, we got stronger, sharper, and better in every way every day. Every day, we crawled into covered and concealed positions at the end of Evening Nautical Twilight; and there we stayed, still and quiet, until the Beginning of Morning Nautical Twilight. (Of course, if Recondo Schools are still run today by Special Forces, I'm sure that Recondos are being trained to take advantage of Night Vision devices as well. I just hope that they are given enough rest to stay alert and to learn their craft.)

    I do believe that the battalion S-1 and Medical Officer of each battalion should be monitoring the operational tempo of maneuver forces within the battalion; and should be able to alert the battalion commander and company commanders before their troops wear down. (It is not as easy to track, of course, but the battalion S-2 should be trying to do the same for known enemy forces.) I never saw nor heard of this being done during my limited time in active duty. In Vietnam and Korea, my units never sustained a high tempo of operations for more than a few days without a pause. [And we never (Vietnam) and rarely (Korea) maneuvered at night.] So, it did not seem necessary. But, since we have made it "normal" to do too much with too few troops for several years now, it should be a major responsibility for someone at staff level.

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    Default Cannot Allow a Sleep Gap

    FM 22-9 Soldier Performance in Continuous Operations (The first edition) was one of the least read manuals in the 1990's Army. Download a copy and find out a lot more about sleep deprivation than you know now and it's effects on combat operations. Consider that we have been in a high optempo since 2001 and what effects has that has had on the force. Some General Officers have been deployed for 4 years, longer than WWII when they didn't have video teleconfrences and unending powerpoint shows. The sleep gap is no joke.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    TX,

    A great article on the subject "Rest for the Weary" was published in the September-October 94 issue of ARMOR.

    I've used it for OPD since.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    They say that at Fort Wainwright during the winter Reveille is sounded at 1030 hours and Taps is at 1700. I was there with my FOs attending Arctic weather training with 1/32 Infantry in November-December 1982.

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    Just got here in late Jun, waiting to see what winter holds. Summer weather is very pleasant though ....
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

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    An extremely large amount of research on this subject has been done by the aviation community, both military and civilian. There are even computer programs where you can plug in quantity, quality and times of sleep and learn how well or poorly you are performing relative to an equivalent blood alcohol level since x amount of sleep deprivation directly correlates to x b.a.c.. The fundamental point is if you don't sleep you won't perform and if you still don't sleep you are going to and not be able to control it.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    a soldier was supposed to retain more or less full combat efficiency for a period of 7-10 days on 1 1/2 to 2 hours' sleep a day
    That is a load of blithers.

    Multiple independent observations (including my own) is that when you go past about three days (72 hrs) on this kind of sleep cycle, judgement and quality of higher brain functions goes right out the window. The problem is that in training, most small unit field exercises are about three days, so you can usually push your people and get away with it.

    Yes, I had some near misses because a group of soldiers I was leading had gotten to about four days without sleep and were still handling pyro. To this day, I am fire-breathing death on sleep discipline.

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    Default Warfighter Judgment and Decisionmaking during Prolonged Wakefulness

    May be of interest.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Quote Originally Posted by TX Grayman View Post
    FM 22-9 Soldier Performance in Continuous Operations (The first edition) was one of the least read manuals in the 1990's Army. Download a copy and find out a lot more about sleep deprivation than you know now and it's effects on combat operations. Consider that we have been in a high optempo since 2001 and what effects has that has had on the force. Some General Officers have been deployed for 4 years, longer than WWII when they didn't have video teleconfrences and unending powerpoint shows. The sleep gap is no joke.
    Frankly, I wouldn't believe anything Don Arthur has to say. Read this and then you decide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Arthur

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    Hi Warrengoff
    I read the wiki article but I was not able to find a reference to Don Arthur and FM 22-9.

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    "we were lectured that a soldier was supposed to retain more or less full combat efficiency for a period of 7-10 days on 1 1/2 to 2 hours"

    I have a hard time comprehending this. Generally speaking, after 2 days with the sleep that you speak of, even with proper nutrients and hydration; the body begins it's process of microsleeps. As soon as this begins, combat efficiency and effectiveness is most definitely not full. This subject is definitely going to be brought up in the future as military budgets get tighter and tighter, units are going to be forced to get the bang for the buck.

    Effective combat should always contain an element and concept of swift rotations. We learned this after Vietnam.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We learned it long before that...

    Quote Originally Posted by TLoder View Post
    Effective combat should always contain an element and concept of swift rotations. We learned this after Vietnam.
    We also relearned it in WW I, relearned it in WW II, relearned it in Korea, relearned it in Viet Nam ...

    Now we get to relearn it again.

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    The US has never been big on pulling units out of the line for rest periods. Goes all the way back to the Civil War, and most likely before that as well.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    That is a load of blithers.

    Multiple independent observations (including my own) is that when you go past about three days (72 hrs) on this kind of sleep cycle, judgement and quality of higher brain functions goes right out the window. The problem is that in training, most small unit field exercises are about three days, so you can usually push your people and get away with it.

    Yes, I had some near misses because a group of soldiers I was leading had gotten to about four days without sleep and were still handling pyro. To this day, I am fire-breathing death on sleep discipline.
    As I am confident jmm99 can attest to, leaders stand to be at the highest risk of losing judgement and higher brain functions, especially when crappy sleep patterns are interrupted by those moments of sheer violence.

    In the days leading up to the moment when I crossed into Iraq, I had a series of tactical problems, kinetic events, and the issue of a large caliber HE round landing 50m away from my vehicle ruin any sleep discipline I was hoping to maintain. When the embedded Fox News reporter ran footage of my passed out on the back of my vehicle, with a CVC helmet still connected, I was just that...passed out. No effort by anyne to rouse me would have worked, because I had been going for at least 72 hours with about the 1-2 hours of interrupted sleep mentioned so far. jmm99 likely witnessed that clip, but I had no idea he had followed out movements until just recently...small world.

    I think the key distinguishing factor here revolves around the fight or flight reflex. When there is enough going on to retain a certain level of excitement and interest to one's mind, sleep can definitely be avoided with some degree of impairment. It's when you mix in the parasympathetic backlash from life-and-death events (I think this is the only thing I believe from Grossman) that you get the massive dumps of adrenaline which cause your body to short circuit and crash. That happened time and time during the invasion, leaving me half-asleep in the turret as we moved north. The exhaustion never really went away until we were outside Samarra, and watching elements of the 4th ID roll north.

    The body and the brain can be condition to adjust to the lack of sleep, and would hazard a guess that at the time I was most adjusted, I could have gone 96 hours without too terrible impairment. Now, throw in a firefight or two, and that changed the calculus significantly.

    Some of you may know CWO5 Timothy Gelinas. He was our battalion's Gunner, or Weapons Officer, during the invasion. A multiple-tour vet of Vietnam and Silver Star winner, Gunner Gelinas was some 55 years old IIRC when we crossed the border. He spoke to the mortarmen of my company a fe w months before the war, and when asked what could be done to do well in combat, he spoke highly of the notion of physical fitness. He was very clear in stating that a high state of physical fitness wil allow one's mind and body to withstand the rigors of combat.

    I offer that if we are going to look for ways to beat back the body's reaction to fatigue and stress, functional fitness is where we should focus our effort.

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