Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Section 734, Weapon Systems Line of Inquiry: Overview and Blast Overpressure Tool-A Module for Human Body Blast Wave Exposure for Safer Weapons Training

Rachel W. Spencer, Elizabeth Brokaw, Walter Carr, Zhijian J. Chen, Bradley A. Garfield, Harsha T. Garimella, Hamidreza Gharahi, Joseph Iampaglia, Lisa Lalis, Andrzej Przekwas, Maciej Skotak, Michael A. Xynidis, Andrew Dominijanni, George Dias, Lura Danley, Raj K. Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Experiences by service members in recent conflicts and training environments illuminate concerns about the possible effects of blast overpressure (BOP) exposure on brain health. Section 734 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 (Public Law 115-91) requires that the Secretary of Defense conducts a longitudinal medical study on blast pressure exposure of members of the Armed Forces during combat and training, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs was assigned responsibility for fulfilling requirements. The study's goal is to improve DoD's understanding of the impact of BOP exposure from weapon systems on service members' brain health and inform policy for risk mitigation, unit readiness, and health care decisions. This article focuses on the activities of the Weapon Systems Line of Inquiry (LOI) and the development of a prototype BOP Tool. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The DoD established the Section 734 Workgroup, which developed a program structure with five LOIs. The Weapon Systems LOI coordinated, collated, and analyzed information on BOP resulting from heavy weapons and blast events to inform strategies, and accounted for emerging research on health effects and performance. Ongoing research was leveraged to develop a BOP Tool as a standalone module and for integration into the Range Managers Toolkit. RESULTS: The effort identified opportunities for the DoD to improve the clarity of communications about BOP exposure, risk, and safety; establish methods to leverage emerging research; and develop a prototype BOP Tool to predict exposure loads when firing heavy weapons in training. CONCLUSIONS: It is recommended that the DoD revises requirements and policy to improve and standardize safety guidance throughout research, development, testing, and evaluation; acquisition; and training. The validated BOP Tool allows users to generate a scenario to predict BOP exposure and allows service members to modify them during planning for safer training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-544
Number of pages9
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume188
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 8 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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