‘We need something between shouting and shooting’
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
are explicitly designed and primarily
employed to immediately incapaci-
tate targeted personnel or materiel,
while minimizing fatalities, perma-
nent injury to personnel, and unde-
sired damage to property in the tar-
get area or environment. Non-lethal
weapons are intended to have
reversible effects on personnel and
materiel. Non-lethal weapons are
designed and employed to achieve
military objectives while minimiz-
ing human casualties or damage to
property and equipment.”
Retired Italian Navy Rear Adm.
Massimo Annati is chairman of the European Working
Group for Non-Lethal Weapons (EWG-NLW), a forum
for exchanging information and promoting cooperation among European nations — currently 13 countries — created in 1999. While not affiliated with the
European Union or NATO, the EWG-NLW comprises
official organizations, institutions and public bodies.
Policies vary among nations, Annati said. For example, the Italian military can use tear gas, but not Tasers,
blunt trauma munitions or dazzling lasers. In the United
Kingdom, the opposite is the case. Tasers can be carried
by civilians in France and the United States, whereas
only the police can use them in the United Kingdom,
Austria, Germany and Portugal, and they are illegal in
Italy and Sweden.
Annati said there also are differing definitions.
“The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.K., both
military and law enforcement, prefer a term like ‘
less-lethal weapons’ to underscore that fatal outcomes are a
possibility, though less possible than [with] traditional
arms,” Annati said. “The European Union’s Defence
Agency uses ‘non-lethal capabilities,’ to include not
only weapons, but also other solutions, such as barriers. The German MoD [Ministry of Defence] went for
Militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world are developing non-lethal weapons (NLWs) to detect, deter and defend.
■ NLWs can provide operating forces with escalation-of-force
options that can minimize casualties and collateral damage.
■ NLWs have both physical and psychological bioeffects on people.
■ Researchers are studying “approach/avoidance behavior,” and
how people make a yes-or-no decision to press forward when
warned or confronted.
Non-lethal weapons are not just weapons. In fact, most are not weapons at all. On the kinetic warfighting spectrum, less-than-lethal systems
offer more alternatives to the warfighter than killing.
In the insurgency wars being fought today, most people
on the “battlefield” are not belligerents, so it’s important to
take every step possible to communicate, warn and determine intent before escalating to lethal means. Thus, many
weapons available for asymmetric warfare are designed to
deliver outcomes that range from a mere attempt to influence behavior up to a real disabling effect.
Militaries long have used tools such as tear gas and
pepper spray for crowd control, and various other
chemical agents that traverse the spectrum from irritating to deadly. International law proscribes the use of
“chemical weapons,” including the non-lethal riot-control agents, for warfare, but permits such agents for
riot (outside combat situation) or prisoner control.
These tools are important to warn or stop people, and
according to the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program’s
(JNLWP’s) website, “non-lethal weapons can provide
operating forces with escalation-of-force options that
can minimize casualties and collateral damage.”
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) defines non-
lethal weapons as “weapons, devices and munitions that