Intuition may save lives: A US military vehicle approaching an Improvised explosive device (IED), hidden on a roadside. Credits: US Africa Command
Psychology

A Soldier’s Sixth Sense: Premonition And Intuition

By on June 24, 2017

Usually people call it the “sixth sense”, but the military term for this phenomenon is “premonition and intuition”.

Soldiers who fought for a long time on the battlefield have often developed sharper senses. Their bodies and minds are adapting to a survival situation:

After you have been away from any artificial light sources for a while, your night vision will improve. Being constantly exposed to enemy fire, your ability to see and recognize objects at a long distance increases.

You will be able to fine tune your hearing so that you’ll will be more perceptible to all “man made” sounds, for example tank engines or sounds of movement in the underbrush.

There are even soldiers who are capable to smell human feces from long distances away.

And some soldiers go even further: they develop an elevated state of mind, where their subconsciousness is able to connect the tiniest sensory inputs with the soldier’s vast experience. This way, soldiers can “foresee” future events on the battlefield, can “sniff out” ambushes and “know” where the enemy has put the mines.

This is not a new phenomenon, though: there are many accounts from WWII and the Vietnam war where soldiers acquired extraordinary perception skills. Unfortunately, the military often dismissed them as “spooky stories”.

I was able to acquire a limited set of “extrasensory perception” skills myself. Interestingly, while I was fighting in the Bosnian war, I wasn’t really able to develop above average senses. As the war went on, I became better in anticipating enemy positions, or mined areas, but this was purely because of my ever growing experience and improved knowledge of our enemy’s tactics. When you’ve seen the enemy attacking a couple of times, always in the same way, it’s really not too difficult to figure out what their next steps will be.

During the war in Kosovo, however, I went one step further. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that we were nonstop in combat. There were no clear front lines (like in Bosnia) and everyday was a fight for survival that demanded from us to be 100% alert and sharp.

I remember one particular day: it was the third day of a massive enemy attack and I was manning a position together with a comrade. We were expecting that the enemy’s main assault would happen just in front of our position. We were in a small house and the moment I entered the building I felt that something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, though, but an inner voice told me: “this place is no good!”

We waited, but nothing happened. The fighting had started on our right flank, but in front of us, everything was still calm. All of a sudden, I told my buddy: “Let’s go somewhere else!” He trusted my word and didn’t argue with me and so we moved to another house that was a couple of hundred meters up the road.

On our way, we passed two of our comrades who were waiting in another position. I took a short look at their spot and told them to move fifty meters up the road to another place. I didn’t know why I said it, but they obeyed my order and moved immediately.

My new position was in a big three story house, only hundred meters to their right side, and so I was able to keep an eye on them. After an hour, the enemy attacked us with tanks. I shot twice with an RPG, but the enemy was still advancing. Our house had a very safe place in the basement and more and more soldiers came from other places to find refuge there.

Outside the house, bullets and shells were flying from every direction. Suddenly my alarms went off again. I stood up and said: “Let’s go! Now or never!” and we all exited through a small window at the back of the house.

When I got outside the house, the air was red from the dust of the houses’ red bricks. Trees were hit by artillery shells and one fell just one meter in front of my feet. I waved and screamed at the two comrades that I had left nearby and told them to join us. Somehow we all made it to a safe place.

What I found out later was that an artillery shell had hit the exact place where I had my first position, just minutes after we decided to leave the place. The shell went straight through the roof and would have killed us immediately.

The two soldiers that I had asked to change their position came to thank me. They told me that only one minute after they were in their new position, an artillery shell had hit the old one.

And the last man who had left the big house from the small window told us that the moment he was leaving the building, a tank round had hit the room in the basement where we had stayed the whole time.

Of course we had a lot of luck this day, but there was more to it. After having spent a long time in combat, I was able to trust my instincts, my gut feeling, although it didn’t make any logical sense. From a military point of view, the positions that we had been using that day were carefully chosen and the best possible choices. Still, some inner voice told me to abandon them.

There were more occasions where my extrasensory perception skills (or those of my comrades) were either saving our lives or made us better soldiers. Especially during night combat, we often “knew” where each of our soldiers was positioned and what they were doing, without being able to see them. We were able to move without wasting time figuring out were everyone was left and we could shoot without hitting one of our own people. This made us better and more lethal soldiers.

Photo:Intuition may save lives: A US military vehicle is approaching An Improvised Explosive Device (IED), hidden on a roadside during a training mission. Credits: US Africa Command

A very interesting article on this subject: The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense

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