Victims often respond to survival incidents with maladaptive behaviours that suggest impairment in executive function. To examine this hypothesis the authors tested sub-components of executive function during an intensive military survival exercise. Compared to a control group the survival course participants showed significant impairment in the incongruent condition of the Stroop task; the mean repetition gap and adjacent letter pair components of the random letter generation task; and the planning and action components of the Tower of London task. No impairment was found in dual-task performance nor in verbal fluency. The pattern of the data suggests that the maladaptive behaviour frequently observed in survival incidents may be explained by dysfunction in the supervisory systemcontention scheduler interface.