- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The U.S. military wants to know why some troops deployed to war zones seem to have a “sixth sense” or “Spidey sense” that alerts them to IEDs, snipers and other existential threats.

A four-year study worth $3.85 million began in 2014 to better understand “sensemaking,” or the ability of personnel to make “connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively.”

Annie Jacobsen, author of “Phenomena,” recently interviewed officials involved in the Office of Naval Research project.

“We have to understand what gives rise to this so-called ‘sixth sense,’ said Dr. Peter Squire, a program officer in ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism department, Time reported Monday.

Lieutenant Commander Brent Olde of ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department for Human and Bioengineered Systems concurred.

“If we can characterize this intuitive decision-making process and model it, then the hope is to accelerate the acquisition of these skills,” the officer said. “[Are] there ways to improve premonition through training?”

The origin of the project came during some of the bloodiest periods of the Iraq War, Time reported. One such incident involved a staff sergeant in 2006 whose gut instincts appeared to work on an almost-supernatural level to save troops from an IED blast.

‘Today’s Defense Department has accelerated practical applications of this concept,” Ms. Jacobsen wrote. ” Active-duty Marines are being taught to hone precognitive skills in order to ‘preempt snipers, IED emplacers and other irregular assaults [using] advanced perceptual competences that have not been well studied.’”

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