The art of developing super soldiers

Australian Army soldiers of 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, drag a wounded soldier to safety during a contact at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in North Queensland as part of Exercise Talisman Saber 17. Image via Commonwealth of Australia.

The Human Performance Research Network (HPRnet), an initiative of the Australian Army and Defence Science Technology Group, are looking to improve the physical and cognitive performance of Australian soldiers.

Under the HPRnet initiative, $4 million will be invested over four years and, so far, seven universities are participating in the network, including the universities of Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and Canberra; Victoria University, Deakin University and Curtin University.

Nick Beagley, a DST Group research leader in human systems said the strategy used by HPRnet is similar to that of developing elite athletes.

"Just as science and technology is pushing the boundaries of elite athletic performance, its application is vital to preparing and equipping our soldiers for their challenging roles" Dr Beagley said.

Brigadier Chris Mills, Director-General Modernisation Army, echoed these sentiments.

"Our human assets, our soldiers are the platforms on which our capability is based," said BRIG Mills.

"We want to be an army in which our soldiers use technology and equipment as tools to carry out their tasks, not one where weapons or equipment are the priority and are simply manned by soldiers.

“[Our soldiers] need to be able to out-think and out-perform their adversaries."

The research conducted by the group is one that BRIG Mills said fills a critical gap

"Army is focused on quality assurance – improving our soldiers’ performance through training and education," he said.

"Therefore, the conduct of research into human performance and the development of humans is a gap that Army recognises and an area that is vital to the future development of Army.

"We already have some of the best soldiers in the world, but we owe it to our men and women in uniform to support them in excelling as warfighters."

Other universities interested in participating in HPRnet are encouraged to attend the inaugural HPRnet Symposium at the University of South Australia on 8 November.  

The event is timed to coincide with the Defence Human Sciences Symposium, which provides an opportunity to hear about the research being undertaken through HPRnet and opportunities for involvement.

The art of developing super soldiers
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