Multi-modal workload impacts on battlefield situation awareness
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The U.S. Military is downsizing and streamlining its forces both in personnel and equipment; yet, the Department of Defense has promised to do so while leveraging technological advantages through proliferation of technology to fight and win America’s wars. Commanders today must execute an enormous task load and there is already an overwhelming nature of current tasks and associated technological requirements. This study examined the simple question, how much is too much technology? This was done through operationalizing visual, auditory, cognitive, and psychomotor workloads on battlefield situation awareness. Through the use of a primary task, reporting task, and N-back task, participants base-lined their performance and then experienced workload level manipulations within the tasks. Ultimately, the study identified that there is a threshold for performance and situation awareness maintenance in complex workload environments, such as those a military commander currently finds themselves, due to the taxation on executive functions regardless of the VACP workload type. The future will only lead to implementation of more technology and subsequent VACP workload requirements. In exploring the effects of varied workload combinations and their direct impact on performance and situation awareness, this research found that a balance must be achieved in human-centered systems.