Program boosts Special Forces physical, mental

By Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Wyatt, 10th Special Forces Group on December 7, 2017

(Editor's Note: Names of service members not used because of security concerns.)

Special Forces soldiers, known as Green Berets, are some of the most highly-trained troops in the Army. Their readiness requires them to have a performance training program designed to increase physical performance and emotional well-being, prevent injuries and improve mental skills necessary to perform optimally in training and combat operations.

This is the goal of the U.S. Special Operations Command's human performance program, also known as the Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning program, or THOR3.

The purpose of THOR3 is to create programs for special operations-focused missions by using professional sports-quality staff to provide coaching in strength and conditioning, physical therapy, dietetics and cognitive enhancement, officials said.

Increasing Mental, Physical Capabilities

"Our goal is to increase their mental and physical capabilities to help them recover from injuries sustained in combat or training, helping them to stay combat ready, longer," said a cognitive enhancement specialist with THOR3. "Cognitive enhancement is a formal part of the program, which seeks to provide a systematic way to build mental and emotional strength."

A soldier assigned to 10th Special Forces Group here said the THOR3 training significantly enhances troops' physical capabilities. He also said the physical improvements made by those who have participated are resulting in increased attendance in the program.

"The biggest thing about the THOR3 program is its growth," the soldier said. "You see more people filtering in. The facility will definitely need to be expanded to accommodate that."

A strength and conditioning coach said the THOR3 program strives to optimize special operations troops' mental, spiritual, and physical condition.

The THOR3 program staff at 10th Group consists of a human performance program coordinator, strength and conditioning coaches, physical therapists, a dietitian and a cognitive enhancement specialist.

In addition to the mental aspect of the program, proper nutrition is required to optimize rehabilitation and performance. This is an often overlooked, yet vital aspect of human performance, which is emphasized by the THOR3 team.

"We have added THOR3 nutritional items at the dining facility that are scientifically proven to improve a soldier's performance," said a performance dietician with the performance program. "Often overlooked, there are specific foods you must eat to effectively optimize the body's potential, along with rest, recovery and training."

Holistic Approach

Additionally, the total holistic approach to fitness includes the collection of data. Information is collected through sports science data during heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking, mobility tests, lactate testing, and body composition testing. This testing is needed to assure the effectiveness and overall management of the program.

"We collect the data from tests run on the soldiers and personalize a training program for them to optimize their abilities physically, tactically, technically and mentally," said the performance analyst assigned to the program.

While the focus of the THOR3 program is to improve current operational longevity, and reduce the potential for injury, the added value to the SOF operator is the improvement in their overall health, coupled with improving physical and mental well-being that is the catalyst for success throughout their personal and professional lifetime.