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Throughout history, when it came down to international struggle, opposing sides would always seek for means to gain an advantage over the enemy. On top of improving combat readiness and tactics, there has been a countless amount of instances when states tried to drug their troops for them to prevail on the field of battle. Throughout centuries, soldiers were sent in battle intoxicated by all sorts of herbs and more conventional mind-altering substances, with various degrees of success.
How can one forget a small unnamed Breton village of indomitable Gauls, that managed to survive in the world dominated by the Roman empire due to a secret magical position that made its inhabitants undefeatable. Of course, we’re speaking about the famous French comic-book series Asterix. The main theme of this franchise was a secret poison brewed by an old druid that was making Asterix’s Gauls both invincible and irresistible.
It’s hardly a secret that any work of fiction usually has some background story to fuel the imagination of a creative mind. And Asterix is no exception, as opium derived from poppies was a very important substance to ancient Greeks. In one of the first and most influential poems in the history of mankind – Homer’s Odyssey we find customs of the past, like soldiers drinking wine mixed with opium after battles to calm their nerves and help themselves forget the horrors of war.
Further still, the mighty vikings that were raiding England’s coastal regions for centuries were known for using so-called magic mushrooms to enhance their performance in battle, the Amanita muscaria that is more commonly known as fly amanita. A famed Norwegian botanist Frederik Schübeler suggested that the vikings drank wine made from the mushrooms.
It’s curious that Napoleon’s legions that were believed to be unbeatable for the longest time were know for their heavy hashish use and alcohol abuse.
During the WWII Japan’s kamikaze pilots that were feared by the allied navy used methamphetamin that was first synthesized in 1893 by a Japanese scientist from the Ephedra sinica plant. The Nazis were also known for their heavy amphetamine abuse. However, they were not alone.
American troops would use amphetamines both during the Second World War and Vietnam catastrophy. According to the testimony of one of the survivors of these conflicts, drugs were distributed among the troops like candies. They were used to ensure that soldiers didn’t get combat fatigue, to make them feel wired, alert, invulnerable, and incredibly aggressive. They also needed less food and less sleep while they were high on amphetamines.
A case is known when during the American invasion of Afghanistan, a US Air Force pilot dropped bombs on the positions manned by the US-led coalition soldiers, killing four Canadian servicemen. His lawyer said that the defendant cannot be hold accountable for this act since he was high on amphetamines. He argued that pilots were not allowed to make sorties without taking drugs during the operation. In response, the US Air Force Command stated that pilots were making the decision to take amphetamines voluntarily.
According to some reports, even today American soldiers are forced to take psychotropic substances. Among those one can find Zodak and the Percocet painkiller, that is an opioid. Often US military personnel receives a stash of pills for a total of 180 days. However, psychotropic drug usage is the most common occurrence among the marines, since they usually find themselves deployed in actual war zones, among which one can find Iraq and Afghanistan.
It’s not really a surprise that a war on drugs in Afghanistan was lost from day one, since it was the Pentagon was put in command of the operation.
But we can not disregard the argument that a commonplace drug abuse in the US Armed Forces could also arise from the fact American soldiers are being subjected to all sorts of pharmaceutical experiments. For instance, Former Army Staff Sergeant Joe Biggs has recently revealed that US soldiers are forced to take drugs that may result in a serious addiction.
According to one of the Pentagon press conferences given in 2014, a considerable number of commanding officers dispatched at six air bases across the US and abroad was involved in drug distribution and use. Three of them carried out combat duties in Wyoming and Montana, where nuclear intercontinental land-based Minuteman missiles are deployed. The scandal affected the Air Force base Edwards and Vandenberg in California, Shriver in Colorado and RAF’s Lakenheath in the UK.
Currently, the American military spends hundreds of millions of dollars trying to create “super soldiers” and part of that spending goes to chemical upgrades. One drug, sometimes called a wonder drug by the military, is modafinil. Modafinil is a psycho stimulant that enhances wakefulness.
It’s noteworthy that the track record of the country that stands at the head of the North Atlantic Alliance has numerous instances of such experiments. Among them is Project MK-Ultra, that was centered around the study of volunteers from the military personnel of the Edgewood base that were used for the study of marijuana and LSD effects on a human being in the period from 1955 to 1972. Until this very day the MK-Ultra remains classified, but it is known for a fact that these studies resulted in the creation of a combat psychotropic substance known as BZ. This chemical weapon was tested back in the day in Vietnam. Believe it or not, but the Swiss research center which was tasked with analyzing the samples taken by OPCW personnel at the site of the Salisbury incident, came to the conclusion that the Skripals were poisoned by the BZ agent, with it remaining in the disposal of the United States and British Armed Forces.
However, it would be naive to assume that American soldiers haven’t paid an incredibly high price for the enforced drug abuse, as most of them are now facing a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, as been reported by the CBS News, illegal drug use among US Navy SEALs is not just on the rise, but it is largely ignored by higher authorities. Even though there’s reports that due to the explosion of heroin and synthetic drug abuse the Pentagon deems it necessary to screen a little harder.
In the meantime, we have little choice but to hold our breath as we read reports published by the Canadian media, saying that American servicemen who were tasked with safeguarding nuclear missiles fulfill their duties while being high as a kite, distributing and abusing LSD and other psychotropic substances, without any form of control exercised by their superiors. So God only knows when those missiles may be launched one day, just for the sake of it.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Featured image is from the author.