by C. B. Hall
Norwich University continues to conduct research projects that may lead to substantial changes in how the U.S. military does business. A study of transcendental meditation (TM) will determine if it can reduce stress among soldiers in harm’s way, while university researchers are also helping Wall Street cope with the threat of cyber-terrorist attacks that could upend the nation’s financial sector.
As warfare moves beyond the old model of guns and bullets, the military looks everywhere for its tools: it spent $20 million in the 1980s and ’90s to determine that clairvoyance was of no use in intelligence gathering. By comparison, the TM experiment seems ho-hum—and probably more useful. It carries with it the hope of reining in factors leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The project utilizes platoons of about 30 rooks (first-year cadets) who meditate and similarly sized control groups of nonmeditating rooks. The effort will follow both groups as they progress in their military careers.
The decreased stress levels noted thus far among the experimental rooks come as no surprise, but what’s the relevance to the military mission? “The first thing we saw is a significant increase in resilience,” says Dr. Carole Bandy, one of the faculty members leading the study. She defines resilience as “the ability to recover from negative experiences” and connects it to success among army special forces, with their greater exposure to traumatic stress.
The cyber-terrorism project, spearheaded by the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI), has created simulator software with which Wall Street firms having been testing their response to cyber-attacks. Senator Patrick Leahy obtained a fresh $9.9 million grant for the project last August, describing NUARI as “a global leader in developing cyber-war gaming.”
“Attacks are inevitable,” NUARI president Phil Susman commented in a university press release. “Building resiliency within critical infrastructures is paramount, not optional.”