The effects of hearing impairment on fire team performance in dismounted combat

Benjamin Sheffield, Douglas Brungart, L. T.C.Amy Blank

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although hearing is known to play an essential role in military operations, few studies have directly measured the impact of hearing loss on combat effectiveness. In this study, Soldiers from the 101st Airborne were equipped with hearing loss simulators allowing parametric adjustment of hearing between normal and profound deafness. They then participated in a combat exercise requiring multiple fire teams with different levels of hearing loss to progress through a series of waypoints in a wooded area as quickly as possible without being eliminated by enemy gunfire. A GPS-based tracking system made it possible to record the progress of each team throughout the exercise, including information on player eliminations and the players credited with these kills. Results show that hearing impairment has a substantial negative impact on the performance of experienced Soldiers in terms of survivability, lethality, and mission success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1512
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventHuman Factors and Ergonomics Society 2016 International Annual Meeting, HFES 2016 - Washington, United States
Duration: 19 Sep 201623 Sep 2016


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