The ability to detect, identify, and localize sounds is critical for successful execution of military operations. However, very little quantitative data are available to determine the minimum hearing levels needed to execute complex military tasks. In this experiment, wearable hearing loss simulation systems were used to evaluate the effect of audibility on combat effectiveness in a paintball-based simulated military exercise. The results indicate that impaired hearing has a greater impact on the offensive capabilities of dismounted personnel than it does on their survival in combat, likely due to the tendency for individuals with simulated impairment to adopt a more conservative behavioral strategy than those with normal hearing. These preliminary results provide valuable insights into the impact of impaired hearing on combat effectiveness, with implications for the development of improved auditory fitness-for-duty standards, the establishment of performance requirements for acquiring hearing protection technologies, and the refinement of strategies to train military personnel on how to use hearing protection in combat environments.