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nonlethal terms

Discussion in 'News' started by casekonly, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. casekonly

    casekonly Veteran Member

    Joined: Aug 6, 2002 Messages: 8,264 Likes Received: 5
    Informational Weapons

    Recently, a new class of nonlethal weapons has drawn considerable interest in defense circles as well as in international law. Two types of such weapons are discussed below.

    Voice Synthesis. This is the ability to clone a person's voice and broadcast a synthesized message to a selected audience. The propaganda value of this technique in our highly mediadependent world would be enormous. We currently have the ability to control the broadcasts of foreign radio and television stations by using orbiting platforms packed with electronic gear.

    In considering whether it is legal to clone a persons voice in order to gain a military advantage, it is important to determine whose voice is being cloned. In most cases, it would be realistic to expect that the voice cloned would be that of a political leader or a military officer. The cloned voice might give orders to the enemy combatant that might prove detrimental to the combatant. The combatant would most likely be under an obligation to follow these orders. That obligation, however, is owed to his own chain of command and is not under the law of armed conflict. Treacherous acts, those which abuse an obligation to be truthful under the law of armed conflict, are illegal. But if there is no obligation to be truthful under the law of armed conflict, then the misinformation amounts to a lawful ruse. Morris Greenspan, a prominent writer in the field of international law, notes that examples of legitimate ruses are "making use of the enemy's signals, bugle and trumpet calls, watchwords, and words of command."73 Giving orders by voice is analogous to giving orders by bugle calls or signals. Cloning a voice would not violate the law of armed conflict.

    Computer Viruses. The ability to severely disrupt computer operations with viruses has already been demonstrated by amateur American hackers. A more sophisticated and professional effort might be that of being able to produce viruses that can be injected into enemy hardware at long range.

    When planning to disrupt computer operations, it is necessary to distinguish whether the computers are military objectives. If they are civilian property or their loss would impact only the civilian population, then they are not legitimate targets. However, if the computers serve a dual use (for both the civilian population and the military population), they may be considered valid targets. The next step in the analysis calls for applying the rule of proportionality to determine if the military advantage outweighs the impact upon the civilian population.

    Potential Policies

    In this section we will discuss several possible scenarios for the employment of nonlethal weapons. These include special operations missions such as counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, peacekeeping, and peacemaking, as well as more conventional forms of warfare. We will also examine the potential for nonlethal weapons to lower or raise the threshold of war and the issue of escalation.

    Special Operations

    Special operations forces typically operate in a highly volatile political environment. They must often minimize the use of force if they intend to complete the mission without alienating international as well as domestic political players. Such alienation would make future missions much more difficult.

    Hostage Barricade Situation. One counterterrorism scenario that must be resolved with a maximum degree of control is the hostage barricade situation. The ideal nonlethal weapon for a hostage barricade situation would be one that instantaneously and selectively disables the hostage takers. Unfortunately, any feasible weapon would probably disable the hostages as well. Therefore, any disabling effect should be controllable so that the hostages could cooperate in their rescue. At the very least, if the weapon is indiscriminate, the effect must not permanently injure the hostages. The use of lasers to temporarily blind personnel could cause permanent blind spots depending on range and weapon intensity. In the final analysis, however, any nonlethal weapon must be judged against the normally lethal alternatives. A typical hostage rescue operation involves a violent plan that results in the death of the hostage takers and the rescue of the hostages. The weapons employed are concussion grenades, flashbang devices, and conventional small arms. The tactics involve the so-called "double tap" - one bullet to the chest and one to the head. Even a well-executed mission can result in the deaths of one or more hostages. The primary potential usefulness of nonlethal weapons is the decreased chance of lethality for the hostages and the possibility of increased safety for the rescuers.

    The worst-case hostage situation would involve an in extremis assault. This would occur if the terrorists start executing hostages. In most situations, the result would be an immediate and violent raid by special operations forces to resolve the situation. The level of violence and lethality acceptable in this circumstance would increase drastically. Ironically, this might also be the situation most conducive to the use of nonlethal technologies. If hostages are already dying, then the advantages of instantaneously incapacitating everyone are obvious. Some unwanted permanent injuries to hostages who would otherwise have surely died are probably acceptable. In contrast, injuries to hostages that occur when rescuers preempt the in extremis situation are inevitably attributed to the rescuers and may not be acceptable.

    Each hostage situation is so unique that one universal course of action cannot be recommended. Variables include the condition of the hostages, potential access by rescuers, the capabilities and proven intentions of the terrorists, the use of deadman triggers, and other factors. The solution seems to be the development and testing of a repertoire of possible nonlethal technologies that gives the mission planner more options. Cooperation with domestic law enforcement in the development of nonlethal weapons could yield synergistic benefits for the resolution of hostage situations.

    Counterinsurgencies. The key to winning a counterinsurgency is winning the hearts and minds of the affected population. In this scenario, any weapon that reduces collateral damage to innocent people or property is advantageous. Insurgents who are interspersed with innocent civilians are especially hard to target. However, it is not even necessary or even desirable to kill the insurgent in order to defeat him. Certain nonlethal weapons might offer solutions to these tactically difficult situations. In Vietnam, for example, the only options available to a patrol under fire from a "friendly" village were (1) return fire and risk generating friendly casualties, or (2) withdraw. Both options have the potential of further alienating a largely friendly population. The ability to incapacitate the insurgents would enable troops to sort out the good from the bad without killing anyone. A secondary advantage of capturing an insurgent rather than killing him is the intelligence that can be garnered from the prisoner, a critical element in defeating an insurgency.

    Some nonlethal technologies that offer promise in counterinsurgencies include chemical defoliants and tear gasses, calmative agents, blinding weapons, and acoustical weapons. Of course, as discussed earlier, the weapon chosen must be a legal one. Additionally, such practical issues as portability, training, and effectiveness must also be addressed before relying on such weapons in the hands of troops facing a mortal enemy. Insurgents might be emboldened and able to attract more (though less dedicated) followers if they know that death is a very unlikely prospect. The insurgency could deteriorate into a game in which the insurgents are incapacitated and captured while counterinsurgents are killed.

    Peacekeeping and Peacemaking. Peacekeeping and peacemaking are rapidly expanding roles for special operations as well as conventional forces. The use of minimal lethal force may be desirable in both situations. Nonlethal technologies may offer some solutions. In Somalia, soldiers confronted with a hostile crowd often had no options other than to fire upon the crowd. Effective nonlethal crowd control techniques might have been used.

    One potential role for nonlethal weapons in a peacemaking scenario would be the ability to defeat the "iron sight." For example, in spite of all our technological successes in countering infrared and electronic threats, we have not developed a technique to defeat a lone sniper with a rifle, or a radar precision guided (RPG) or other optically guided weapon. Small numbers of snipers can wreak havoc on an entire city as they did in Sarajevo. They can also bring down helicopters as they did in Mogadishu, and they can also destroy the morale of a normally effective combat force. Lasers might offer an effective means of point defense and could even be used to counter snipers. For example, a relatively simple laser device strapped on a helicopter could be scanned to blind anyone looking in the direction of the aircraft. Likewise, a laser scanned around a compound or guard shack could blind anyone attempting to target the site. Indeed, by using the unique optical reflection signature from the back of the eye, a low power laser could be used to locate anyone persistently looking at a specific target.74 A human operator (or an automated system) could then decide whether to target the detected signature with a higherpowered laser weapon or even a lethal weapon. Disadvantages of this sophisticated antisniper device include possible indiscriminate targeting, adjustment of power levels to account for environmental conditions, and the possibility that the laser itself may provide a more sophisticated enemy with an emission source that could be targeted.

    The role of peacekeeping (as opposed to peacemaking) troops does not generally involve combat. Many UN observers are required to be unarmed. Perhaps nonlethal weapons could be used to aid in separating warring factions or as antisniper devices to protect the peacekeepers.

    Conventional Warfare

    Nonlethal weapons can also be used in conventional conflicts. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons can be used to disable grounded aircraft or vehicles rendering them useless on a temporary or even permanent basis. These weapons can also be used to down airborne aircraft although this would hardly be considered nonlethal. One key to effective warfighting doctrine is to attack an enemy's critical nodes of command and communications as well as other infrastructures. While smart weapons can attack specific complexes and bunkers, nonlethal weapons offer the opportunity to disable entire nodes on a much grander scale. For example, the remote injection of a computer virus into an enemy's command and control system could be devastating. Likewise, certain biological agents that are designed to attack silicon or other computer components could effectively destroy computerized warfighting equipment. Super caustics can be sprayed on roads to deteriorate tank tracks and truck tires. Antitraction compounds can render mountain roads impassable, and embrittlement compounds could be sprayed on virtually any mechanical device -- rendering them ineffective over a period of time. Combustion alteration technology agents could be used to shut down an entire harbor or airfield. Of course, practical matters such as method of delivery, persistence, concentration, and efficiency of these agents versus more lethal weapons must be considered.

    One advantage for using nonlethal technologies in combat is the possibility of reducing fratricide. Nonlethal weaponry that disables a tank rather than killing it enables friendly forces the option of "shooting first and asking questions later." Additionally, nonlethal weapons such as acoustical and laser devices might offer good point defense options for high security areas, further reducing the chances of fratricide.

    Threshold of War

    Raising the threshold of war is a consistent overarching goal of most arms control negotiations. In light of the fact that many hostile countries possess weapons of mass destruction, quick escalation from rhetoric to shooting could prove disastrous. Indeed, conventional weapons in the hands of fairly skilled armed forces often result in significant casualties. Therefore, a primary concern in the employment of nonlethal weapons is the possibility that they might lower the threshold of war. What one country might consider a "normal" economic sanction, another country might consider an act of war. Even if such a sanction was not considered an act of war, it could, nonetheless, provide a path for escalation. National sensitivities and vulnerabilities are too variable to accurately predict a response to the employment of a particular nonlethal weapon. For example, if a third world country brought down our stock exchange and electronic funds transfer system with a computer virus, we may consider this an act of war. The world community, however, would probably condemn us if we retaliated with lethal weapons-perhaps our only option against a less-developed society.

    The most tempting use of some nonlethal weapons would be in the area of clandestine operations. With computer viruses, for example, an attacking country would almost certainly enjoy plausible (if not total) deniability. In some cases, the targeted country might never realize they were attacked at all. For example, a liquid metal embrittlement agent introduced clandestinely in an industrial plant could cause a catastrophic failure that might be attributed to normal wear and fatigue. Clandestine operations of this type might muddy the international waters to the point that nobody knows when or by whom they are being attacked.


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  2. villain

    villain Veteran Member

    Joined: Jul 12, 2002 Messages: 5,190 Likes Received: 2