Take your Go-Pills...


Go-Pills (aka amphetamines, co-pilots) are a popular item in many war gaming rooms around the world. Particularly the cockpits of US military bomber jets. In fact, the US military requires its fighter pilots to take them when they fly bombing missions, everywhere from Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan, to Iraq. Go-pills are standard issue to U.S. Air Force combat pilots, to help them stay awake on long combat sorties. They are considered "fatigue management tools."

This all came to light in the North American media when a case of “friendly fire” was blamed on go-pills by the US F-16 bomber pilots who accidentally killed 4 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. In court testimony, US fighter pilots Harry Schmidt (a former Top Gun) and William Umbach testified that go-pills were at the source of the error, and that they had no choice but to take them for their 10 hour combat sorties.

"The problem that they were having over in Afghanistan was that if you're going to borrow a $30 million dollar F-16 fighter, they want to make sure that you're going to bring it back in one piece, and using these stimulants I think was basically the command policy to make sure that the pilots and planes came back." - JOHN PIKE, GlobalSecurity.org


"It's a stimulant and heightens all your senses really. You get more alert. You get edgy."



There were reports during the Gulf War of American pilots becoming psychologically addicted to the "go pills" and their use now seriously concerns many leading drug addiction experts. Dr. Robert DuPont, a former White House drug czar and one of the country's leading drug addiction authorities, says he was stunned to learn about the Air Force's use of amphetamines. "This is speed. This is where we got the phrase, speed kills," he said. DuPont, who contends the "go pills" can be highly addictive, said, "It's a frightening concept to me from my experience in dealing with amphetamines to have this be a routine activity."One Air Force pilot said, "We all carry them as a bit of insurance."

DuPont's characterization of heavy amphetamine use suggests the "go pill" policy may be playing with fire. He said, "People who get strung out on amphetamines are, are usually crazy. They're paranoid, they stop eating. … Their judgment is impaired and they do very bad things. …"

But hey, it’s all in line with the adrenaline rush and buzz that is part of the war game room experience, where killing is just an excuse for the sensory experience of superpower mastery, sexy hi-tech weaponry, cockpit imperialism, and the rush that comes from having your fingers on the button.

"Bombs away. Cranking left. Lasers on. Shack."
(Pdf Transcript of the Friendly Fire pilot communication)


More on the go-pills:

Go-Pills, bombs, & friendly fire

Friendly Fire Case

Need for Speed

Air Force Pushes Go-Pills