The Future US Military 'Super Soldier' May Be Closer Than We Think

super soldiers
Marines hang from a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter with Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 162 during a special purpose insertion and extraction exercise in Djibouti. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Alex C. Sauceda)

The explosive popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe led some in the defense industry to pursue Iron Man-like combat suits for American troops. While there are some viable prototypes in the works, it looks like we may get Captain America's "super soldier" program first.

Though it may not look like the process that Steve Rogers went through, it may be coming within the next 30 years.

In this week's episode of "Left of Boom,"'s Managing Editor Hope Hodge Seck talks to Dr. Peter Emanuel and Dr. Diane DiEuliis about a 2019 paper they co-authored for the U.S. Army, Cyborg Soldier 2050.

The paper discusses a Defense Department Biotechnologies for Health and Human Performance Council (BHPC) study group that looked at emerging tech that could enhance human biological abilities across many areas of interest to the Defense Department. These included technological enhancements to vision, hearing, muscular control and "direct neural enhancement of the human brain for two-way data transfers."

Now, super soldiers could end up being Captain America with a touch of Johnny Mnemonic -- just 30 years from now.

Related: Super Soldiers Part 2: The Dark Side (Ft. Edward Barrett and Tony Pfaff)

"Technology is accelerating, and we are entering the fourth industrial revolution, this biological revolution," Emanuel said. "To some extent, we've already seen the integration of man and machine over many years -- in the use of pacemakers. To some extent, we're already seeing mankind become more intimate with technology."

Senior leadership at the Pentagon hates surprises, Emanuel noted, but they know that man and machine will be coming together. The study and the paper are designed to tell the DoD the kind of technology that may be coming and how it might integrate.

One of the ways the military works to solve problems is through the use of Blue teams and Red teams. The Blue team ensures they use technology as effectively as possible. The Red team is designed to think like the enemy. The DoD gave this Red team a year to show the Pentagon what the "cyborg future" might hold and help the top brass get ready for it. The paper is the outcome of that effort.

"What we wanted to do with this workshop was give it some ground truth, actually," said DiEuliis. "What's hype, what's real, what can we expect, what are we potentially going to see in the real world, in the military, in this time frame."

But they didn't cover broad strokes of technology; they decided to focus on areas of most importance to actual warfighters and the willingness of those people to adopt certain technologies.

Listen to Part I of "The Future of Bioenhanced Super Soldiers on "Left of Boom," wherever you listen to podcasts. You can tune in to new episodes of's "Left of Boom" podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn and Stitcher. Follow Hope Hodge Seck on Twitter @HopeSeck.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

Want to Know More About Veteran Jobs?

Be sure to get the latest news about post-military careers, as well as critical info about veteran jobs and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Story Continues
Left of Boom