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A Critical Examination of the U.S. Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program
  • Nicholas J. L. Brown
Nicholas J. L. Brown
New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK

Corresponding Author:nick.brown@free.fr

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Abstract

This article examines the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program from a scientific, ethical, and pragmatic viewpoint. CSF is one of the largest single applications of psychological research in history, intended to develop “resilience” in every U.S. Army soldier. I highlight several areas where the available information about the program either suggests the likelihood of specific problems, or is insufficient to allow the research community to evaluate the effectiveness of CSF independently of the claims made by its originators and assurances given by other non-disinterested parties. In particular, I question (a) whether a program based on resiliency training for school-aged children can hope to address the serious mental trauma, including PTSD, faced by soldiers deployed to war zones; (b) whether the instruments used to measure the performance of the program are reliable, valid, and appropriate for the circumstances in which they are being used, and (c) whether the design and delivery of the program takes sufficient account of the conflicting real-world demands placed on the individuals involved. I conclude that the program appears to have a number of potentially problematic aspects that require wider scrutiny from psychological researchers and practitioners.