MoD's refreshingly secret weapon

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Britain's soldiers and sailors will soon be swigging a secret new super-drink developed by the Ministry of Defence to enhance their performance in hot or cold climates or at high altitudes. The effect on these already robust individuals - and therefore on the enemy - is likely to be devastating, writes Christopher Bellamy.

Last night the Ministry of Defence refused to reveal details of the beverage to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.

Since 1991, the spectacle of soldiers clutching bottles of mineral water has been evident from the Gulf to Bosnia. In hot climates they are required to drink six litres of water a day to avoid dehydration. But water is not the best answer, the Institute for Naval Medicine believes.

Water contains no energy, does not rehydrate quickly and fills the stomach. Isotonic drinks, which contain electrolytes - salts and sugars - in the same strengths as the human body's, enable rehydration to take place more quickly and are already used by athletes.

The new super-soldier-and-sailor drink will reduce the amount of fluid needed to accomplish rehydration. "We are investigating how best we can improve physical performance by testing different mixes of the drink and various feeding patterns," James Bilzon, the project officer, said.

Leading article, page 15

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