and that motivation plays a big role.
Even when presented with an
unambiguous warning, or even
warning shots, bad people can be
highly motivated to continue to
approach their objective. Pepper
spray will likely turn back innocent
bystanders, but probably won’t stop
a suicide bomber,” he said.
HECOE is researching the visual
sensory effects of broadband and
laser light. Because of how extremely sensitive and finely tuned
the human visual system is,
HECOE is studying that boundary
between non-lethal intended effect
and injury. For example, in addition to being a good warning
device, laser dazzlers can degrade
an adversary’s ability to aim and
fire with accuracy.
“Lasers cause people who are shooting at you to
miss,” Ashworth said.
Non-lethal weapons can help detect, dissuade and
deter, said Dr. Michael Qin of the Naval Submarine
Medical Research Laboratory (NMSRL) in Groton, Conn.
“We need something between shouting and shooting,” he said.
Underwater acoustic devices can defend against swimmers or divers. According to Qin, the differences between
acoustic signals in water and air and, in particular, how the
acoustic energy coupling between the human body and
water is nearly optimal, so acoustic signals in water have a
significantly more profound effect on the body. But before
the operators are provided a non-lethal weapon, it is thoroughly evaluated to determine its effects on humans.
“We’re looking for bioeffects, both physical and psychological,” Qin said.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Frank Torres, field radio operator, front, reacts as his
group is hit by a wave of hot air from the Active Denial System during a demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., March 9. The system is a non-lethal
weapon that projects a long range reversible heating sensation to the skin.
“The main role of military NLW has shifted from
riot control to force protection of check points or convoys; determining intent; stopping vehicles and boats;
and for counter IED [improvised explosive device]
purposes,” Annati said.
“If a craft, after having been warned, maintains a
potentially threatening behavior, then it is qualified for
further actions, being either lethal or non-lethal,
according to the situation and the rules of engagement
issued,” he said.
Dr. Alan Ashworth, chief scientist for the Air Force
Research Laboratory (AFRL) Human Effects Center of
Excellence (HECOE), emphasized the pivotal role that
bioeffects research plays in fielding NLW, noting it is a
mandate that “every significant decision point in the
acquisition process for a DoD NLW program must be
informed by bioeffects.”
For example, AFRL has conducted 12 years of bio-
effects research on the Active Denial System (ADS), a
directed energy system capable of precisely applying a
98 gigahertz radio frequency energy beam that causes
extreme discomfort at a very long standoff range.
HECOE is the DoD Joint Executor for bioeffects research on non-lethal weapons, and is located at the AFRL
Bioeffects Division at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio.
Ashworth noted that researchers are studying
“approach/avoidance behavior,” and how people make
a yes-or-no decision to press forward when warned or
“The models must account for the fact that human
sensory, perceptual and cognitive systems are not ‘linear,’
The U.S. Coast Guard is an active participant in the
JNLWP, according to Lt. Cmdr. Ty Nagie, the service’s
non-lethal weapons central action officer with the
Office of Specialized Capabilities at Coast Guard
“The vision of the Coast Guard’s NLW program is to
provide systems, weapons and munitions that span the
service’s ‘Use-of-Force continuum’ as may be needed to
detect, classify and neutralize threats,” Nagie said.
The JNLWP has funded development of past, present and future systems used by the Coast Guard, to
include the LA51 Warning Device, Running Gear
Entanglement System (RGES) and Small Naval
Arresting Rope Entangler (SNARE), he said.