Volunteers within the ranks of U.S. Navy SEALs and other elite units are experimenting with new technologies, which may enhance their already impressive skill sets.
Officials with Naval Special Warfare Command have confirmed that personnel are testing transcranial electrical stimulation and other methods eyed last July by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The efforts are part of an initiative called the Defense Innovation Unit (Experimental), or DIUx.
“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,” said Capt. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the command, in a statement to Military.com Sunday about the project. “Early results show promising signs,” he said. “Based on this, we are encouraged to continue and are moving forward with our studies.”
The defense website also noted comments on brain stimulation by Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski in February. The officer told an audience in D.C. that techniques were able to extend “peak” levels of concentration for 20 hours.
Brett Wingeier, CEO of Halo Neuroscience, told Military.com that the number of units testing his “neuro-priming” device is currently “in the double digits.”
“Whatever you’re training on as far as a movement-based skill, if you do deep practice, hard repetition, this accelerates the benefit of that,” Mr. Wingeier said. “They’re training at this amazingly high level, and the amount they can train is actually limited by things like physical recovery. They want to be able to maintain those incredible physical standards as efficiently as possible. That helps them avoid injury. If I was to sum it up, it’s kind of all about just training a little bit smarter.”
Mr. Wingeier’s device has also been tested by elite athletes.
“It was a real learning moment for us about special operations and about the military,” he said. “It’s super impressive just how enormously skilled everybody is.”