NESC Forum 2009: Dan Billing

Allan Hahn introduced Dan Billing as the first presenter in the afternoon session. At present Dan’s work is addressing occupation (trade) specific requirements in the Australian military. His talk was entitled Human Performance in the Military Context.
Dan-Billing-research114 Photo Source
Dan discussed the environments in which soldiers perform and considered the implications of physical fatigue in a military context. He noted the importance of adaptability and discussed the monitoring of the potential weakest links in teams.
Dan explained the deployment cycle for military personnel. The cycle involves personal training, task force generation, preparation, deployment, and demounting (reconstitution, recovery and leave). He discussed the recruitment prcesses and the dilemmas posed by the difference between chronological age and training age. He noted the need to identify early those individuals of poor physical condition and how to monitor carefully the exercise dose across 1000 recruits.
In the next part of the talk Dan discussed selection into specialist occupations in the military. He noted the importance of physical robustness, dealing with dislocated expectations and mental resilience. The recruitment process was particularly important in identifying those with an internal locus of control.
Dan discussed the prevention of heat injuries in the field. He noted the use of hand held heat stress monitors. Dan’s group is developing guidelines for heat acclimation. He noted that the incidence of heat stress is linked to the load military personnel carry. These loads can range from 22kgs to 55kgs in some cases.
Dan developed his talk with a discussion of mission rehearsal exercises. He noted the importance attached to the fidelity of rehearsal contexts and the use of equipment to monitor physiological status. He indicated that prognosis and diagnosis are possible with these status measures.
Dan discussed deployment with reference to physical capability and body composition. He noted the different approaches required by missions and emphasised the importance of balanced physical capability.


Dan concluded his talk with a discussion of the development of generic fitness standards for military personnel and the establishment of baseline standards.
Dan concluded his talk with some key challenges:

  • The relative proportion of pull (reactive) research compared to fundamental push research.
  • Converting research into policy is time consuming
  • Posting cycles impact upon planning
  • Hierarchical structures



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