The US Army is planning a shift in the mode of command and control between soldiers and their battlefield leaders. Soldiers will receive orders from afar through electronic means of communication. This practice is known as remote command and control. Reliance on remote command and control has the potential to erode trust between soldiers and their leaders and should, we hypothesize, slow soldiers' response times to commands to move and to shoot. We have conducted two field experiments to test this hypothesis (Pangburn, Freund, Pangburn, & Smith, 2003). Our laboratory was a paintball assault lane. While a paintball lane is not actual combat, we have found that its live but non-lethal fire makes it an effective and ethical laboratory for studying the behavioral and cognitive effects of stress induced by live fire. Participants were exposed to two conditions of communication mode, leader-present (face to face) and leader-remote (two-way radio). The contrast between participants' response times to commands to move and to shoot was statistically significant and was consistent with the predicted decrement in the remote command-and-control condition.
"The Adverse Impact of Remote Command and Control under Live Fire,"
Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments:
2, Article 12.