by Mondoreb & Little Baby Ginn
In the aftermath of Blackwater, non-lethal crowd control is an issue that commanders in Iraq very much have on their minds. They may soon have a new weapon to use as early as next year. It's not a science fiction weapon, but one that's been in the making for the last decade.
There's been some buzz over the last year or so about the deployment of the new weapon with a military-sounding name, the Active Denial System. It may be ready as soon as next year for use in Iraq.
More from the Houston Chronicle:
There's no doubt this oversized ray gun can deliver the heat. The question is, how soon can the weapon, which neither kills nor maims, be delivered to Iraq?Commanders always like to have more options at their disposal and this would give them one more option. After Blackwater, crowd control in Iraq without fatalities, is an important issue. Let's hope troops in Iraq have it soon. And let's hope it's more than a science project.
At a rain-soaked demonstration of the crowd-dispersal tool here Thursday, military officials said one could be deployed early next year. But others still need to be built and undergo more testing before being shipped, a slow-going process at odds with urgent demands from U.S. commanders for the device.
What the troops may see as needless delays, Pentagon officials view as necessary steps toward fielding a weapon never used before in combat. The device, known as the Active Denial System, uses energy beams instead of bullets and lets soldiers break up unruly crowds without guns.
That means fewer civilian casualties, a key ingredient to success in Iraq.
"We've been perfecting the art of the lethal since Cain and Abel," said Marine Corps Col. Kirk Hymes, director of the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
The goal now, he said, is to provide U.S. troops in hostile environments with a way to respond that is more potent than shouting but less final than shooting. To do so in a package that is safe, mobile and sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of combat shouldn't be rushed.
"We don't want to hand the operating forces a science project," Hymes said.
A little background on the Active Denial System from Wikipedia:
The ADS works by directing electromagnetic radiation at a frequency of 95 GHz toward the subjects. The waves excite water molecules in the epidermis to around 55 °C (130 degrees Fahrenheit), causing an intensely painful burning sensation. While not actually burning the skin, the burning sensation is similar to that of a light bulb being pressed against the skin. The focused beam can be directed at targets at a range of just under half a kilometer, or 500 yards. The device can penetrate thick clothing, although not walls. There is no indication on the feasibility of electromagnetically shielding a person from its effects with a wire mesh or Faraday cage, in a similar manner that a microwave oven prevents radiation escaping. As the beam excites the water molecules in the skin, water bearing materials such as wet clothing/towels, wet pastes/gels, vegetables or meat could effectively absorb the energy, although the military claims that wearing wet clothing actually intensifies the effect.
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