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NATICK, Mass. When they deploy rapidly to the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, U.S. Soldiers confront more than the enemy.
At heights exceeding 8,200 feet, they must worry about the effects of altitude on their mental performance and about their susceptibilities to Acute Mountain Sickness, or AMS. As acting chief of the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick Soldier Systems Center, Stephen R. Muza, Ph.D., devotes a great deal of time to studying those problems.
We need to know the actual, physiological basis for the development of these altitude illnesses, said Muza, and specifically in this case, Acute Mountain Sickness, in order to target new pharmaceutical products.
Working toward that goal, Muza and his colleagues at USARIEM are collaborating with the Neural Systems Group, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School on Neuroimaging of Acute Mountain Sickness, a research study sponsored by the Department of Defense Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. The study is using near-infrared neuroimaging, or NIN, to non-invasively measure changes in the brains of test subjects at sea level and 14,500 feet while doing cognitive tests and either light or heavy exercise.
Neuroscientist Gary Strangman, Ph.D., of MGH has been bringing his NIN equipment to Natick, where it is used on subjects in USARIEMs hypobaric chamber, which can simulate altitudes up to 30,000 feet. The NIN is a portable alternative to magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.
Soldiers tested for potential AFRICOM assignment
FORT IRWIN, Calif. Before the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team can qualify to become the first regionally aligned brigade assigned to U.S. Africa Command, they will need to deal with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, at the National Training Center here.
Some 2,700 of these opposing force Soldiers are throwing everything they can at about 4,000 Dagger Brigade Soldiers, as 2nd ABCT are called.
The bad guys are role-playing conventional force and their guerrilla force partners, along with insurgents and criminal elements. The good guys are role-playing host-nation government and security forces that must be somehow integrated with U.S. forces, that desperately need to augment their forces.
And things could get ugly really fast if Dagger Soldiers mistakenly kill, insult or not assist the neutral civilians, militias and police who inhabit mock towns and refugee camps in the sprawling 1,100-square-mile area of the National Training Center, known as NTC. And some of these neutrals are role played by female Soldiers. All of this decisive action training takes place in an intense, 14-day period ending March 1. That training is broken into two main parts that, in reality, occur simultaneously the conventional force-on-force and wide area security training.