Science at the service of the Special Forces

The VIPER research unit celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, as it was founded in 2010 by professor Xavier Neyt and medical major Nathalie Pattyn. As from the start, this research unit aimed at a multidisciplinary investigation of human performance in operational conditions. VIPER research projects were implemented in the International Space Station, in Antarctic stations, in submarines from partner nations, and within the Air Component, in basic flight instruction as well as in expert fighter pilots.

Four years ago, the VIPER team chose to operationalize the gathered knowledge and experience in designing a performance enhancing program for the Air Component, hence bridging the scientific results towards a practical application. The research project HFM 17/05 was funded by the KHID/IRSD, and Dr Emilie Dessy has been working for the last two years on the implementation of performance enhancing techniques, training and methodologies.

In 2017, the Special Forces Group wished to develop a Human Performance Program to increase performance of operators, both on a physical and mental level, and they reached out to VIPER to design this program.

In close collaboration with the Centre of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of the military hospital, the Human Performance Program was designed to fit the SF operators’ needs in terms of health, well-being and performance.

SF operators performing vigilance testing during counter-terrorism training: the results of their cognitive assessment in computer tasks is matched to their operational performance on the physical testing of the tactical exercise.

A full description of the designed program was published in the “Belgisch Militair Tijdschrift” in 2019: « Better, faster, stronger…but not bigger: le programme de gestion de performance humaine au sein des forces spéciales ». 

Special Forces