Chewing Gum 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF has come up with a new life-saving weapon to ensure that soldiers remain
alert and effective on the battlefield.
No, it is not a missile, gun or
piece of armor. It is something much smaller: a piece of chewing gum.
gum, which contains caffeine, is under consideration as a food that could be
consumed by pilots and combat soldiers to help them remain sharp during lengthy
flights and missions.
“People need to stay awake for a long time, and the
problem is not just how to keep them awake, but also how to retain a high level
of effectiveness,” a senior IDF medical officer said on Wednesday.
IDF decided several months ago to conduct a feasibility study of different types
of gum that contain caffeine, in an effort to improve the capabilities of
soldiers and pilots on the battlefield, according to the officer. It recently
gave the gum to troops from the Paratroopers Brigade during an exercise in the
In 1999, the US Congress allocated $250,000 for a study on the
effect chewing gum could have on troops. Until then, caffeine was absorbed into
the body by a liquid or pill, but researchers found that the chewing gum could
also be effective.
One gum, called Stay Alert, carries a 100-mg. dose of
caffeine, similar in quantity to about 6 ounces of brewed coffee. More than 85
percent of the caffeine is absorbed by the body after just a few minutes of
Another stimulant that the IDF is testing is called Modafinil,
which has been used by several militaries to maintain troop alertness during
complicated operations like the British war in the Falklands. The US Air Force
also used the stimulant for pilots who participated in the Libyan air strikes in