Being all that you can be

In their recent book The Techno-Human Condition, Brad Allenby and Dan Sarewitz address a number of issues that arise when thinking about enhancements. One of the points that they make, which bears some consideration, is that the most enhanced people in our society today are soldiers. The military has an interest in enhancing its soldiers – physically and mentally – and as a result soldiers are at the tip of the spear of enhancement technologies. Nonetheless, as Allenby and Sarewitz wryly point out, there is no groundswell of desire to become a soldier so that one can be enhanced.

Lest one think that this is all just idle speculation, one need only read a 2005 paper by Andrew B. Meadows, a US Air Force Major with the title Fatigue in Continuous and Sustained Airpower Operations: Review of Pharmacologic Countermeasures and Policy Recommendations.  The paper begins by reviewing the Tarnak Farms friendly fire incident:

“On the evening of 17 April 2002, two US F-16s were airborne near Kandahar, Afghanistan providing on-call support for coalition ground forces as part of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The two pilots, COFFEE 51 and COFFEE 52, had been flying for approximately six hours when they detected what they perceived to be surface-to-air fire off the right side of their formation. Subsequently, COFFEE 52 requested permission from the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to employ his 20mm cannon in response to the threat. After a series of radio communications between the F-16s and the AWACS, COFFEE 52 called “self-defense” in response to seeing several men gathered near an artillery piece and released a 500-pound laser guided bomb on the target. Two minutes and twenty seconds had elapsed from the request for 20mm cannon fire and release of the bomb. The bomb detonated three feet from the gathering of men, killing four and wounding eight. The men were Canadian – friendly forces conducting a training exercise in the area (Dumas 2002).” Continue reading