New weapons

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by CSM, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. CSM

    CSM Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2004
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    (c) 2005 Inside Washington Publishers. All Rights Reserved
    08-11-2005 13:01 EST
    Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England has directed U.S. forces to draw up plans to use non-lethal technologies in domestic missions such as protecting nuclear power plants and stopping suspicious ships in American waterways, according to Pentagon officials and documents.

    Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. Northern Command, which oversees homeland defense in the continental United States and Alaska, and Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, which is responsible for homeland defense of Hawaii and U.S. protectorates in the Western Pacific, are accordingly incorporating non-lethal weapons into their operational planning documents and concepts of operation.

    "These commands will also identify requirements for the military employment of non-lethal capabilities," England wrote in a June 24 memo to Defense Department leaders that puts into action the Pentagon's new homeland defense strategy.

    The Defense Department is considering a wide range of weapons that are intended to stop, but not kill, terrorists.

    "We have no hesitancy to use deadly force against terrorists but we don't want to inadvertently expose civilians to the danger of a stray round," said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Paul McHale in a July 22 interview.

    Military personnel protecting critical infrastructure may soon be equipped with directed-energy weapons that fire an invisible millimeter-wave beam that delivers debilitating, but temporary, pain. Super lubricants that render any surface too slippery to walk, drive, or launch an aircraft may be used by U.S. military forces operating at home to stop vehicles without using lethal force. Similarly, the Pentagon may soon employ new technologies for stopping ships without sinking them, such as crippling the electronic navigation system, disabling the ship's propeller and knocking out an outboard motor, all without firing a weapon designed to kill.

    "In the context of homeland defense, non-lethal technology is seen as an alternative to lethal force," said McHale. "It broadens the range of capabilities available to a commander so that he may employ non-lethal weapon systems in a manner that will decisively defeat a terrorist attack without endangering innocent civilians who may be in the area."

    To put such technologies as soon as possible in the hands of U.S. forces protecting the homeland, England has directed Gen. Michael Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps and the Defense Department's executive agent for non-lethal weapons, to draw up an investment plan for developing, procuring, and fielding non-lethal capabilities for use in domestic operations by Oct. 1.

    The Joint Program Office for Non-Lethal Weapons, based in Quantico, VA, is currently drafting this homeland defense investment plan, according to Col. David Karcher, director of the office. This office includes representatives from each of the services, the Coast Guard, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's acquisition, technology and logistics directorate and policy shop. Representatives from other federal departments -- including Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, and State -- also work at the office but do not influence Pentagon budget decisions.

    "Based on that tasking from England, we've put together a tiger team with representatives from all the programs" and begun assembling an investment plan, said Karcher in an Aug. 5 interview. The office currently operates with a budget of $44 million a year, which pays for weapons development, training, education and research into the effects of non-lethal technologies on humans.

    Spending on non-lethal weapons could increase as the Pentagon outfits forces with more than firearms to defend facilities from terrorist attack.

    "We envision that non-lethal technology has particular relevance to critical infrastructure protection," said McHale. "There may be a requirement, executed perhaps by the National Guard, to protect a nuclear power plant, a transportation system, rail line, a pipeline, a critical government center or some other facility, if threatened by a terrorist attack. Today we rely quite heavily on the use of deadly force to achieve that mission, usually through the employment of small arms."

    A stray M-16 bullet, capable of flying up to a mile, could threaten civilian population centers near critical infrastructure sites.

    "Non-lethal weapons would allow us to impede or to halt a terrorist attack without the fear that an innocent civilian would be injured," said McHale.

    A candidate technology for protecting important sites, McHale said, is the Active Denial System, which fires a millimeter-wave beam that can strike at a considerable distance, causing debilitating pain that can be temporary.

    "It is foreseeable that we would protect nuclear power plans with interlocking millimeter-wave beams in a manner that would . . . protect that nuclear power plant as effectively as if we were using deadly force . . . without the danger of a stray round. And I find that both operationally and morally reassuring," said McHale. -- Jason Sherman

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