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                and learn the Army’s Basic Skills. The key phrase here is Basic Training. We are not traversing the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, nor are we performing high altitude training. We create controlled environments that are safe for civilians to be transformed into Soldiers.
For most Trainees we receive, this is the first time they have spent time outside or even endured strenuous workouts. But that is OK. BCT is designed to improve physical fitness! However, when you introduce supplements like caffeine to people like this, the situation can turn dangerous very quickly. Most of our Trainees are not like
our seasoned Soldiers, they have not had time to acclimate to this kind of lifestyle, and they do not know how to moderate water intake with controlled amounts of the M.O.R.E. throughout the day.
The outcome of this is severe dehydration due to caffeine being a diuretic (it makes you lose more water and electrolytes) and a dangerously elevated heart rate that causes shortness of breath, light- headedness, chest pain, and syncope (fainting) 2, 5.
At Echo Company, 3-13 INF REGT, we tend to avoid handing out the M.O.R.E. unless it is a pre- determined requirement for our training events. Over the past six BCT cycles, I have witnessed over 95% of all heat casualties in our Company involved a recent M.O.R.E. supplement. The first time we handed them out in BCT for our Company, we had seven heat casualties at one time, with the only event for the day being the Confidence Obstacle Course. Fortunately, with a little rest and some IV fluids, all the Trainees were perfectly healthy and returned to training within a day.
This is a high-stress environment for these Trainees, but we need to give them time to acclimate to the climate, lifestyle, and training.
To reiterate, the M.O.R.E. was developed for professional warfighters in extreme battlefield environments where caloric intake is needed, and the caffeinated products are available to increase awareness during operations that require less sleep than average (if any) 1. Besides affecting sleep, caffeine also modifies post-training recovery (it can delay the time needed to heal after a ruck, for example) 3. Not only can the healing process be delayed, “the use of caffeine may augment the risk of muscle damage in athletes” 4.
Our Trainees are well on their way to joining the ranks of these professionals; however, they need to develop their cardiovascular endurance and fitness before supplementing performance-enhancing drugs like caffeine safely and effectively.
1LT Taylor is the Executive Officer of Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 193rd Infantry Brigade.
1. Zanchi, J., Foran, A. (2014, March). MORE is better when it comes to food rations. US Army NSRDEC, 121561.
2. (2020, April). Tachycardia. Mayo Clinic, 20355127.
3. Pickering, C., Grgric, J. (2019, April). Caffeine and Exercise: What Next? Sports Med 49(7): 1007-1030.
4. Bassini-Cameron A, Sweet E, Bottino A, et al. Effect of caffeine supplementation on hematological and biochemical variables in elite soccer players under physical stress conditions. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2007; 41:523-530.
5. (2020) Dehydration and Heat Stroke. The John Hopkins University.
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