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Non-Lethal Weapons

November 8, 2011

4th European Symposium on Non-Lethal Weapons – Stadthalle Ettlingen, Germany May 21-23, 2007 – “The success of a nonlethal device depends upon the ability of the device to deliver a payload which produces the desired human effect, physiological, or behavioral, or both. Further, that effect must support an operational requirement. In short, the device must work and it must serve a purpose. It is difficult to design successful directed energy nonlethal weapons because 1) psychological effects of nonlethal weapons are more subtle and variable than traditional munitions and 2) psychological effects research for nonlethal weapons is still in its infancy. In response to these challenges, the US Air Force Research Laboratory has initiated a research effort to directly assess behavioral responses to directed energy nonlethal weapons (DE NLWs). Moreover, this effort strives to identify very specific quantifiable behaviors, which if induced through DE NLWs, are implicated in increased mission success for specific operational scenarios. In this manner, AFRL is not just determining that nonlethal weapons are effective, but that they are effective towards desired operational outcomes. The program has both a theoretical and applied track. The theoretical track blends known human experimental research in avoidance behavior and motivation with decision-making to develop a causal model for predicting individual response to nonlethal weapons. Through computational modeling, the applied track seeks to quantify correlational relationships between nonlethal weapon use and individual behavior. Computational approaches under consideration include Bayesian models, neural networks, and traditional linear and logarithmic models. Development of predictive behavioral models in response to nonlethal weapons use will directly support operational deployment decisions of current nonlethal weapons, and provide theoretical and empirical support for behavioral effects-based design of future nonlethal weapons.” – Alan Ashworth PhD Directed Energy Bioeffects Division Air Force Research Laboratory

acoustic devices to non-lethal optical – “…Service-unique non-lethal capability sets, also known as escalation-of-force kits, support platoon-company size units and contain a mix of counter-personnel and counter-materiel systems, protective equipment, enhancement devices, and training devices. Some of the non-lethal capability sets include acoustic hailing and language translation devices. Other sets may include tire spikes (caltrops) and the portable vehicle-arresting barrier for use at roadblocks and entry control points. Currently, there are initiatives in place to develop and package mission-specific sets. Currently available non-lethal capabilities range from non-lethal munitions and acoustic devices to non-lethal optical distractors and vehicle stopping devices. Non-lethal weapons are multi-capable, with the ability to strike single or multiple targets. These non-lethal capabilities give warfighters a variety of options in situations where traditional weapons are not the best solution.” (Currently Non-lethal Capabilities)

powerful hailer and sonic blasters – “…Manufactured by American Technology Corporation (ATC), the firm’s LRAD 500-x is a dual-purpose device: a powerful hailer and a non-lethal weapon capable of producing ear-shattering sounds highly-damaging to their human targets. ATC’s technology has been deployed in Iraq as an “anti-insurgent weapon” and off the coast of Somalia to fight off desperate “pirates,” that is, former Somali fishermen whose livelihood has been destroyed by over-fishing by foreign factory fleets and toxic dumping, including nuclear waste, by Western polluters. No matter, time to break out the sonic blasters! Developed for the U.S. Navy in the wake of the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, cruise ship Captain Michael Groves “successfully repelled pirates off the Somali coast using non-lethal weapons including an LRAD. Groves has since filed suit against Carnival Cruise Line, claiming he suffered permanent hearing loss as a result,” East County Magazine reports…” (Compliance by Design: The Continuing Allure of “Non-Lethal” Weapons)

remote-controlled, but it’s not robotic – “…This is actually two assumptions; neither is precisely wrong, but both are misleading. First, drones themselves are not necessarily “killers”: They are used for many nonlethal purposes as well. Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) can carry anything ranging from cameras to sensors to weapons and have been deployed for nonlethal purposes such as intelligence gathering and surveillance since the 1950s. Yet the nonlethal applications of drones are often lost in a discussion that treats the technology per se as deadly; 90 percent of the op-eds we analyzed focus solely on drones as killing machines. Of course, it’s true that drones can be used to kill. Some drones over Libya are now armed, and armed drones have been launching strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen for years. Second, even weaponized drones are not “killer robots,” despite the frequent reference in the op-eds we studied to “robotic weapons” or “robotic warfare.” Their flight and surveillance systems are able to extract information from their environment and use it to move safely in a purposive manner, but the weapons themselves are controlled by a human operator and are not autonomous. With a human-in-the-loop navigating the aircraft and controlling the weapon, the “killer” aspect of these specific drones may be remote-controlled, but it’s not robotic…” (Foreign Policy: If Drones Had Feelings, They’d Be Hurt)

auditory effect – “…But as disturbing as Raytheon’s ADS may be, there are systems about to come “on-line” that are far, far worse. New Scientist recently described how one enterprising outfit of capitalist grifters, the Sierra Nevada Corporation, is “ready to build a microwave ray gun able to beam sounds directly into people’s heads,” David Hambling reports. Touted as the “next big thing,” MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) will eventually be deployed for “crowd-control” applications in U.S. military “operations other than war.” According to Hambling, MEDUSA exploits the microwave audio effect, in which short microwave pulses rapidly heat tissue, causing a shockwave inside the skull that can be detected by the ears. A series of pulses can be transmitted to produce recognisable sounds. (”Microwave Ray Gun Controls Crowds with Noise,” New Scientist, July 3, 2008). Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Lev Sadovnik is working on the latest in a series of “active denial systems” under contract with the U.S. Navy which said in a preliminary report that the device “was shown to be effective.” According to its manufacturer, MEDUSA involves an “auditory effect” loud enough to “cause discomfort or even incapacitation…” (“Non-Lethal” Weapons: Where Science and Technology Service Repression)

isolation and intensive interrogation – “…Psychological techniques used at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and secret prisons have included extremes of the following; manipulation of time, loud music, strobe lights, odd sounds, hooding, ear muffs, heat and cold, light and dark, isolation and intensive interrogation “and most importantly, creative combinations of all these methods which otherwise might seem, individually, banal if not benign…” (In Contravention of Conventional Wisdom)


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