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Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to maximising performance during military visual search tasks
  1. Katherine R Cornes1,
  2. M Boardman2,
  3. C Ford2 and
  4. S Smith1
  1. 1 Human and Social Sciences Group, Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory, Fareham, UK
  2. 2 Human and Social Sciences Group, Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory, Portsdown West Ringgold Standard Institution, Fareham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katherine R Cornes, Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory Portsdown West Ringgold Standard Institution, Fareham, UK; kcornes{at}


During the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, many UK military personnel were killed or injured by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Insurgents sought to develop new ways of concealing and detonating IEDs, and UK forces invested significantly in finding increasingly effective methods of detecting and avoiding them. Between 2010 and 2014 the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Human and Social Sciences Group (HSSG) was asked to investigate the factors that might affect the performance of specialist search teams in the identification of IEDs. They sought to ascertain ways to improve effectiveness and maximise safety through training, human factors advice on equipment design, and recommendations on changes to tactics techniques and procedures. This paper provides a short summary of some of the research conducted that underpinned the advice and recommendations that were provided. The research conducted by HSSG, in collaboration with industry and academia, helped ensure that search teams had the best possible training, advice and equipment.

  • military
  • health
  • psychology

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. Some minor grammatical changes were made to the article.

  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to the conception of the studies presented in this paper. It has been made clear within the paper who was principally responsible for conducting the work. All work was overseen by the authors. KRC drafted the manuscript and all authors contributed substantially to its revision. KRC takes the responsibility for the paper as a whole.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval All research was approved by the MOD Research Ethics Committee (MODREC).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.