Creating Super Soldiers for Warfare: A Look into the Laws of War

By Sawin, Christopher E. | The Journal of High Technology Law, October 2016 | Go to article overview

Creating Super Soldiers for Warfare: A Look into the Laws of War


Sawin, Christopher E., The Journal of High Technology Law


I. Introduction

"The wars of the future are very likely going to resemble many of the science fiction movies that we are watching right now." (1) Extreme developments in technology coupled with competition for global control have triggered futuristic ideas of utilizing super human enhancement technology in the military to create super soldiers for warfare. (2) Even Marvel comic books feature a well-known super soldier, Captain America, who possesses heightened endurance, stamina, strength, agility, and intelligence making him "superior to any Olympic athlete who ever competed." (3) While the idea of creating an army of super soldiers seems far-fetched and long in the making, several research organizations have already begun developing technology to surge human strength and endurance. (4) Although the idea of using super soldiers to fight wars has sparked extensive top-secret government experiments, implementing technologically enhanced soldiers that contain super strength, recessed pain sensors, superior stamina, and heightened sensory abilities could be a war crime. (5)

The idea of using technology to enhance soldiers was first used by George Washington during the American Revolutionary War from 1775-1783, where vaccinations were used to enhance the human immune system. (6) However, the next time human enhancement was used in creating super soldiers for warfare began as early as the turn of the nineteenth century where the Soviet Union sought to use DNA manipulation to cross breed humans with apes to create an army that would not easily die or complain by becoming resistant to pain and unconcerned about the quality of food they ate. (7) Today, the thirst to create the ultimate killing machine is the "fastest growing area of science" in which the creation of enhanced humans will produce soldiers equivalent to robotic killing machines who will out-perform traditional soldiers. (8) With roughly one-third of all military research worldwide being devoted to technology, the era of using super soldiers will require us to occasionally rewrite the rules of war within the Geneva Conventions. (9) Currently, the United States Pentagon spends 400 million dollars a year researching and exploring ways to create super soldiers through human enhancement technology that would allow soldiers to be combat operational even after 48 hours of sleep deprivation. (10) Although the race to create an army of enhanced war fighters has already begun, the ambiguity of Article 35(2) of the Geneva Conventions begs the ultimate question of whether using super soldiers for warfare is prohibited. (11)

This Note argues that Article 35(2) of the Geneva Conventions does not prohibit the use of super soldiers for warfare. This can be achieved by showing that the use of super soldiers in warfare would not likely cause "superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering" to enemy combatants or civilians. (12) This Note will begin by explaining what super soldiers are, the various types of capabilities they may possess, and then a brief history of the existence of super soldiers. (13) Additionally, this Note will give a brief history and description of Article 35(2) of the Geneva Conventions. (14) This Note will then use Article 35(2) of the Geneva Conventions to argue that although technology in the military is quickly evolving, the use of military technology to create an army of super soldiers in warfare is not prohibited. (15)

II. History

A. Super Soldier Defined

In light of the quickly evolving era of military technology, governments from across the world are in competition to create the first super soldier designed to become an efficient killing machine possessing abilities only seen in movies. (16) Super soldiers refer to genetically modified humans that are capable of producing super human abilities that typical humans cannot generate. (17) Additionally, because of the rapid development in military technology, super soldiers can possess a variety of super human capabilities that were once considered solely fictional. …

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