The Role of the Medical Officer in the Soldier’s Enhancement

In: European Journal of Health Law
Renaud Bouvet Centre hospitalier universitaire de Rennes, service de médecine légale France Université de Rennes 1, Institut du droit public et de la science politique France Centre de recherche des Ecoles de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan France

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Increasing a soldier’s perception, action and survival abilities responds to an operational need justified by the evolution of the battlefield. The available or conceivable means are multiple, including invasive techniques involving the soldier’s mind and body. This field of intervention places the medical officer at the centre of the debate, as a guarantor of the soldier’s aptitude for combat, and as a possible actor of the soldier’s enhancement. The conditions of consent and medical necessity seem overwhelmed by the challenges of using a technique of enhancement in this context. Consent indeed appears necessary, but insufficient to justify its implementation, and the requirement of medical necessity seems obsolete, as the normal/pathological dichotomy that structures the medical thought is outdated, the goal being to reach a “supranormality”. Moreover, the decision-making process creates a tension concerning the articulation of the aim of medical practice with the operational objectives.

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