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Show Highlights

The military is famously tight lipped about the research it does in general. No less so than when researching seemingly benign practices like float tanks.

Graham and Ashkahn give their scoop on what they know about the military’s use of float tanks in their research and training programs.

Show Resources

Float Conference 2017 – Lydia Caldwell – Researcher at Ohio State University and working with the Air Force STRONG Program Video Podcast

Weightless Warrior (non-profit helping veterans with PTSD get in float tanks)

Listen to Just the Audio

Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: Alright.

Ashkahn: Hey.

Graham: Hi, hi, hi.

Ashkahn: Okay, boom, Ashkahn is over here in the house.

Graham: Slam a jamma Graham-a over here. We got a question.

Ashkahn: Yeah, it is.

Graham: Hot off the wire. “What’s going on with the military and floating?”

Ashkahn: That’s it, that’s the question. That’s what we got.

Graham: Well first of all, they’ve been installing float tanks. They’ve been floating people for a mile now, at least for everything.

Ashkahn: At least a few years.

Graham: As long as the military has existed they’ve been floating people.

Ashkahn: Yeah, yeah. For those of you who know nothing about this.

Graham: Yeah, let’s start there.

Ashkahn: Float tanks are these like big tubs.

Graham: The military. How many times are we going to use that? I feel like every three episodes we use that joke.

Ashkahn: We go further and further back you know. Like gravity was forum in the first millisecond. So…

Graham: The military is a branch of the….

Ashkahn: Some years ago, I want to say like four years ago.

Graham: Sure, look it up, this isn’t exact. Don’t write us telling us how wrong we are.

Ashkahn: If you’re listening to this ten years from now, four years ago won’t be accurate anymore, so keep that in mind too.

Graham: That’s true. Look up when this was originally released.

Ashkahn: So four years ago-ish. We like heard wind that the Navy Seals were putting on a, it was actually longer I think. It was more like six, seven, actually it’s been almost like seven something years because we heard about this first before that Sweden Summit and that was in like 2012, so yeah, it’s been like 6 something years since we first heard about this. But basically-

Graham: That was so long spent addressing on how long.

Ashkahn: Now we know, we pieced it together here and everybody got to see the process. We should edit some of these episodes.

Graham: Go, go, go, go.

Ashkahn: You know six-ish years ago, we heard wind that the Navy Seals were installing some float tanks to have the Seal Team Six basically is what people were hearing, to have them float. That was about as specific of information as most people got. We heard they were doing research but that research wasn’t going to be publicly available.

Then we heard they did research and that research is not publicly available. We heard various anecdotes like it was going well and people were having a much better time sleeping coming back to Navy Seals and things like that.

Graham: Yeah, things about the vigilance after going out on their missions kind of going down, the amount of time it takes to get out of that hyper vigilant mode. So these are kind of like through the grapevine sort of things we’re hearing.

Ashkahn: We’re probably going to get knocks on our door from the government after releasing this episode.

Graham: Yeah, if this is the last episode of the Daily Solutions Podcast, you’ll know it happened.

Ashkahn: Retracted.

Graham: More recently, maybe like two and a half years ago.

Ashkahn: Well, let’s just think about this.

Graham: Something about two-ish years ago, more work started happening in the military in a more public way, too. The Air Force kind of found out what was going on with the Navy Seals and wanted to start doing some research themselves so they set up a couple of float tanks in their research lab as a way of getting a bigger set of data they also started purchasing float tanks and installing them in various university athletic programs.

Ashkahn: So the University of Cincinnati for example.

Graham: Yeah, exactly.

Ashkahn: This might sound familiar to you if you were at the conference a couple conferences ago or if you saw the videos from their presentations. But we had a couple people both from the University and the Air Force presenting on some of this.

So definitely, we’ll put those in the show notes for the conference videos so you can check them out and see. So that was a really nice public update on what was being done. They were making a plan to have that research more publicly available.

That’s what I remember talking to them about, so both the research in terms of what was coming in from the universities, which I think was largely even the Universities actually mailing in blood samples and stuff and the air force research lab doing the analysis.

The kind of smaller and kind of data set research that was happening in the actual air force and the air force was doing the same thing, doing tests with their kind of elite groups to test for performance and stuff like that and we haven’t really heard too much in the last, basically since that conference in 2017 where they were kind of talking about their plans and their initial research and stuff they were doing.

So I haven’t personally seen published papers or anything like that.

Graham: I don’t know of any actual public research that’s come out of that more.

Ashkahn: No.

Graham: Military work that was being done.

Ashkahn: They did tell me that was their plan, and I heard, you know, again, just kind of through the grapevine sort of communications that the data came back and it was looking good and I think maybe the person that was leading the programs switched departments or something, that the information they had gathered in such a short amount of time has seemed to inspire much more, a lot of sections of the military to begin installing float tanks in various military facilities and stuff like that.

So it seems to be growing and it seems to be something where we’re seeing more and more floating through the various branches of the military and for various applications and being spread out further than just kind of the highly specific, elite group kind of research areas.

Graham: Which is awesome. In a lot of ways, right? Getting floating out there. Having research done even if it’s not totally publicly available right now, it’s still good news and making sure soldiers can come back and actually recover from really stressful missions better.

I mean, knowing it’s a treatment for people who actively have PTSD also makes me hopeful maybe it can do something maybe to help prevent that during the onset stages and there’s lots of good in my mind that can come out of the adding float tanks as part of the kind of military regimen.

Ashkahn: Yeah. It’s also a little weird to me.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: So I don’t know, I can’t. I’m not the most pro-war sort of person. To me I’m all about helping people recover. I wish people weren’t put in those situations in the first place and have to put their lives back together, but when I talk to the people, what they were doing this with the Seal Team Six and the Air Force and stuff like that, I was always, I always went in with the impression they were like looking at float tanks and being like “man, this seems like a really great way to help people deal with PTSD or have our vets have a way of recovering.”

That’s in my mind what was going on. Because people were using in their float centers people see vets coming back with PTSD and we hear stuff about all that.

Graham: They definitely were using it for recovery based experiments.

Ashkahn: Yeah. But.

Graham: Yeah, again.

Ashkahn: When I talk to them about the research and what they were doing and what they were interested in, I got the sense, not even just got the sense, you can listen to a podcast interview recording with the people running this in the Air Force from the 2017 conference. Which we’ll also put in the show notes.

I very clearly got the sense that they were interested in float tanks as a way of making people more efficient soldiers.

Graham: Like floaty super soldiers.

Ashkahn: Yeah, like it will help their response speeds and make them more able to perform their duties better. There was something about that that felt weird to me that floating all of the sudden is being used as a way of more effectively making military soldiers and, I don’t know.

Graham: Which at least theoretically is why things get locked behind military privacy walls.

Ashkahn: Right. Why the Seals weren’t releasing any of that research.

Graham: Because they’re trying to train better soldiers and they don’t want other people to also know how to train soldiers using float tanks, right, that’s kind of the, at least I assumed some of the idea from the outside.

Ashkahn: It’s just, to think the float tanks are being weaponized in a certain way.

Graham: Yeah.

Ashkahn: It didn’t sit well with me. I still feel kind of weird about it.

Graham: It does, it feels very strange. I 100%, I don’t even know what else about say, other than that.

Ashkahn: My secret hope, here’s what I secretly hope is going to happen is that it works really well and they start getting all of their soldiers to float and then they all float so much that they come to the realization that war is not something we should be conducting and the entire military industrial complex collapses as a result of it.

So that’s, you know, that’s the inside plan. Kind of scoop it in under the radar and just make the entire concept of everything that they’re doing.

Graham: Make them question it.

Ashkahn: Yeah, make them question it and make it kind of just slowly degrade.

Graham: I like it.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: I like it. To be honest it’s kind of why I leased in the whole float world, not the military in general, it’s like I trust more on the subtle influences of float tanks than just about anything else, right? If we’re doing hundreds of floats over the course of the month, or thousands, if other centers are doing the same thing. I just sort of trust that a certain number of people who are hopping in the tanks who are stressed out and haven’t thought about things in their life in a long time and don’t take that time to reflect and don’t take that time for themselves, will just do that and come out a little better and a little stressed out and having thought about life a little more, so, I definitely hope that applies for the military as well, right? I probably don’t think it’s going to take down a complex, but, I mean, if people just come out and realize that this is actually something they’ve always wanted to do with their life and they’re really excited about their job and to be in the military. Or if they come out and say hey, no, I don’t want to do this.

Just like, more reflection can’t be a bad thing. You know, I think often the insanity in the world happens when we’re thrust into situations and we’re told to do certain things and we never stop to think about it and never really ask questions. So I do like the float tank for that.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: I hope for the best. It’s weird. It’s weird.

Ashkahn: Hopefully it will also pivot into a more support from the military for vets coming back and floating for PTSD.

Graham: Sure, yeah.

Ashkahn: Kind of accepting that as a way of helping people afterwards and then focus more on recovery and stuff like that.

Graham: Less on float tanks as a method to kill people more efficiently.

Ashkahn: Exactly. Hopefully that is also a result of all this and all the research isn’t just geared towards, I don’t know, trigger response time, or whatever crazy research they’re doing.

Graham: That’s about it, I can’t think of anything else I really know about what’s going on.

Ashkahn: Other than hopefully at some point the Air Force will actually release some data. I mean they talked about some of it during their conference talks. So they did have some stuff in there, but I got the impression back when they were kind of actively putting the stuff out there before that conference that they were hoping to actually publish papers. So, we’ll see. That would be cool.

Graham: That would be great, I mean that is one other really nice thing to come out of this, is actually the furthering of the civilian research into float tanks as a result of the work that the military is doing.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: They just have such high budgets they can throw at things.

Ashkahn: Unbelievable amounts of money. What other institution could be like, oh yeah, let’s just start buying float tanks and installing them wherever the hell we want.

Graham: And doing lab tests and yeah. It’s crazy.

Ashkahn: That’s a, we don’t have to get into that, but like, it’s crazy to me that they have this much money.

Graham: So yeah, that money going towards float tanks and some of that data eventually building on the research we have for the public. That sounds like a really cool benefit that can come out of all this. So I very much hope that that’s the direction things go. Even sooner rather than later, to be honest.

Alright, did we string them along about the military long enough?

Ashkahn: Yeah, I think that’s good.

Graham: Okay, if you have your own questions go on over to…

Ashkahn: Floattanksoulutions.com/podcast

Graham: Bam, whamo slammo.

Ashkahn: Whammo Slammo.

Graham: Yeah, we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Ashkahn: Yeah, have a good one.

Graham: Bye everyone.

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