(2) Rank. Trench foot and frostbite occur primarily in front line riflemen,
predominantly those of lower ranks. The decreased incidence of cold injury among
higher ranks is the reflection of a combination of factors such as possible lesser degree
of exposure, experience, and receptivity to training.
(3) Previous cold injury. A person who has had a cold injury (frostbite or
trench foot) has a greater possibility of another cold injury, not necessarily involving the
part of the body previously injured. An individual who has had a minor degree of
superficial cold injury which has completely healed is not more susceptible to future cold
injury. This individual does not require profiling or assignment restrictions.
(4) Fatigue. Fatigue is a contributing factor to cold injury. Mental tiredness
can cause individuals to neglect acts vital to survival. This occurs more frequently in
personnel who have been in combat for 30 days or more without rest. Frequent rotation
of troops from the front lines for even short periods lessens the influence of the fatigue
(5) Concomitant injury. Experience has shown that injuries resulting in
significant blood loss or shock reduce effective flow of blood to the extremities. This
causes the individual to be predisposed to cold injury.
(6) Discipline, training, and experience. COLD INJURES ARE
PREVENTABLE. Proper use of simple preventive measures which are inspected and
enforced by officers and noncommissioned officers will markedly reduce the incidence
of cold injury. Individual and unit discipline, training, and experience are closely related
in their influence upon the incidence of cold injury. Well-trained and disciplined
personnel suffer less than others from the cold because they are better able to care for
themselves through personal hygiene, care of feet, change of clothing, exercise of the
extremities in pinned-down positions, and similar effective measures.
(7) Psychosocial factors. Cold injury tends to occur in passive, negativistic
individuals, who tend to display little muscular activity and are prone to pay less
attention to carrying extra footwear and changing of socks when needed.
(8) Race. In terms of numbers at risk, and independent of geographic
origin, Blacks appear to be considerably more vulnerable to frostbite than Caucasians.
This has been a consistent observation dating from World War II through Korea and into
the present in Alaska. It suggests that Blacks must be particularly vigilant respecting
hand and foot care during cold exposure. By training and proper use of protective
clothing, the Black soldier can overcome this physiological handicap and serve in cold
climates without excessive risk of cold injury.
(9) Geographic origin. Caucasian personnel from warmer climates in the
United States (where the mean minimum January temperature is above 20F) appear to
be predisposed to cold injury. The basic factor involved, however, may be caused by
psychological, social, and education factors rather than geographic factors.