Washington: The US military is developing a division of "super SEALs" using brain-stimulation technology to create warriors of the future who would be faster, smarter and more deadly, according to a media report. To strengthen the Indo-US relations, India may adopt the technology.
The US Navy is now actively testing devices, that look like headphones, that stimulate the brain using electricity to enhance soldiers' cognitive abilities. Transcranial electrical stimulation was one of the technologies touted by then-Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in July 2016 as part of his Defense Innovation Unit (Experimental), or DIUx, initiative.
Since then, multiple SEAL units have begun actively testing the effectiveness of the technology, officials with Naval Special Warfare Command told Military.com.
"Earlier this year, Naval Special Warfare units, working with DIUx, began a specific cognitive enhancement project with a small group of volunteers to test and evaluate achieving higher performance through the use of neuro-stimulation technology," Captain Jason Salata, a spokesman for the command, said in a statement.
The elements testing the technology include Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the unit known more popularly as SEAL Team Six. Other teams are also conducting tests, Salata said, without elaborating. He said there have been positive outcomes so far. "Based on this, we are encouraged to continue and are moving forward with our studies," Salata said.
The technology offers not cognitive enhancement, but neuro-priming, said Brett Wingeiere, the Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of Halo Neuroscience, the company that makes the device. Developed for elite athletes, the headset purports to work by stimulating the brain to enter a state of hyper-elasticity, allowing users to learn better and more efficiently.
For operators, the system could improve shooting performance, Wingeier said. At a conference in February, the commander of all Navy special operations units made an unusual request to industry. He asked them to develop and demonstrate technologies that offer "cognitive enhancement" capabilities to boost his elite forces' mental and physical performance.
"We plan on using that in mission enhancement. The performance piece is really critical to the life of our operators," Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski said.
"In experiments, people who were watching these screens ... their ability to concentrate would fall off in about 20 minutes," Szymanski said.
"But they did studies whereby a little bit of electrical stimulation was applied, and they were able to maintain the same peak performance for 20 hours," he said.