ON A PERSONAL NOTE
I would like to share an example of my personal experience with the stress inoculation training being used successfully in the military.
I have always been deathly afraid of heights. But when I decided to join the U.S. Army, I realized that this was one fear I would have to overcome if I were to become an effective warrior.
That said, in my 25 years in the Army—starting as an infantry soldier, then as a paratrooper and ultimately serving as a Green Beret—i had no shortage of challenges that took me well off the ground. On the low end, I had to maneuver over high obstacles, climb 50-foot ropes and rappel off of 100-foot towers. I got to soar above the trees in a SPIES (Special Patrol Insertion/ Extraction System) rig after a jungle extraction and did some fast-roping out of helicopters hovering 90 feet above the ground.
By using the techniques I learned in training, I was able to do some static line parachuting with full combat equipment into drop zones around the globe from 800 feet.
My greatest challenge came when I jumped from a perfectly good airplane at 25,000 feet into the dark of night.
I had oxygen, 80 pounds of equipment and a ram-air parachute on my back and my weapon strapped to my side. I flew myself at high altitude for over an hour and then landed in a postage stamp-sized landing zone many miles away from where I had exited the aircraft. I was able to do all these things—not because I am particularly courageous, but simply because I learned how to inoculate myself from my own fears to develop the discipline needed to control them to a point at which I could do my job.