JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (Sept. 25, 2013) -- The Performance Triad is an exciting initiative that could go far in improving the health of the force, said Col. John O'Brien, a medical doctor, and chief of Operational Medicine and Deployment Health at Madigan Army Medical Center here.

The Performance Triad targets better performance through improvements in sleep, activity and nutrition.

The first pilot course for Performance Triad started here Sept. 9 with squad leaders and Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, participating in two weeks of training led by health and medical professionals from the Office of the Army Surgeon General.

Following their training, the squad leaders will be responsible for imparting their knowledge and mentoring their Soldiers over the course of 24 weeks.

Two other pilots are planned using the same schedule and instruction. The first kicks off Sept. 30 at Fort Bliss, Texas. Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry, will participate. The second kicks off Oct. 28 at Fort Bragg, N.C. There, it will be Soldiers with the 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, who participate.

Once the team from the Office of the Army Surgeon General leaves next week, O'Brien's medical team of Performance Triad-trained professionals will be the go-to persons for Soldiers participating in the pilot.

O'Brien said he anticipates a lot of questions from squad leaders.

"I graduated from medical school about 20 years ago, and even I have trouble keeping up with all the latest research on diet, exercise and nutritional supplement findings," he continued.

He cautioned that there are a lot of unregulated "health promotion products" like supplements that don't get pulled from the shelves unless problems arise. Some of those products have bad side effects. Others, while not harmful, might not have much in the way of benefits.

Soldiers in the pilot all have Performance Triad guidebooks with URLs to websites and videos that O'Brien said provides information steeped in the latest science, research and medical findings and are safe to rely on. The pilots will reveal if new material needs to be incorporated in the guidebooks.

However, Soldiers will still have many questions, he said, which he and his team are prepared to answer via phone, email or visits.

The team has at its disposal access to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive database on products and nutritional supplements, he said. Information changes all the time and the database is constantly updated with new findings.

O'Brien attended the pilot classes and was peppered with questions from squad leaders, wanting to know such things as the effectiveness of the "Caveman Power Diet," herbal medicines and different types of extreme exercise programs.

His team will be tracking the volume and type of questions they get over the course of the pilot to better gauge the support Soldiers will be requiring once the program kicks off Army-wide. Answering questions from one squadron is one thing, but Joint Base Lewis-McChord, or JBLM, has some 40,000 Soldiers, he said.

Rather than wait for the pilot to end, O'Brien said he's already casting about for ideas he'd like to implement in support of Performance Triad.