What's better than packaging an incapacitating, "less-lethal" electric shock device in a shotgun shell so it can be fired from a conventional firearm? If you answered a bigger, longer-range electric shock device that can be fired from a 40-millimeter grenade launcher, then you and the Pentagon share similar sensibilities.
The new Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation (HEMI) projectile is being developed for the Pentagon by Taser International under a $2.5 million contract and should be ready for prototype testing some time after the new year. With a range of just under 200 feet, the HEMI can reach out and touch someone more than three times further away than Taser's XREP shotgun cartridge devices, granted the user has a grenade launcher within easy reach. As such, it is being developed with military and tactical applications in mind, rather than for use by mall security cops or police on the standard beat.
Of course, there is concern that the projectile itself may be more lethal than the electric shock it delivers, especially if the projectile strikes the target in a sensitive area like the head or a vital organ. But Department of Defense project managers for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNWLD) insist the cartridges deliver minimum impact force upon delivery to a target. The team is testing a variety of noses for the projectile that disperse the force, making the blunt impact less traumatic on the unlucky recipient.
Then there is concern about the shock itself. Upon impact, the target's incapacitation could last up to three minutes – presumably enough time for the user to cover the 200 feet separating him from his target, but also long enough to deliver a fatal dose of electric shock. DoD hasn't pin-pointed exactly how long the duration of the shocks will last, but incapacitation time can be adjusted to meet whatever requirements are deemed necessary. But one would think that after being pegged with a 40-millimeter projectile it wouldn't take too much further prodding to convince a target to lay down arms.
Is it wise to have non-lethal weapons in war? After all, what is the purpose of war?
I imagine that certain targets need to be taken alive, but I don't see this being a standard issue item.
Yes, it's extremly wise to have non-lethal weapons. Wars have not been black and white for decades; it's no longer as simple as 2 uniformed militaries fighting an open war. As a veteran of 4 combat tours in an infantry unit in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002-2007, I can think of countless opportunities in which something like this would have been priceless. I can't even begin to list how many times situations presented themselves in which a person displayed suspicious behavior that could have had potentially deadly results, but in the extremely precarious political situation the US is in, deadly force can not be justified lightly. The boots on the ground soldier is constantly having to fight not only fear of death, but fear of prosecution from the media and our own lawyers. Soldiers constantly have to worry whether killing someone in self-defense will come back at them and land them in jail, because maybe there wasn't enough evidence to prove that they were justified in shooting. A non-lethal device could allow them the time to make that distinction. In the event a suspect may have been innocent, they may have a brief period of pain and discomfort, but they'll live and not be horribly maimed. You don't have that option with 5.56 or 7.62 rounds.
This is starting to blur the lines between military and police. That might not be the smartest thing. The military is a NOT police force. Their mission is different from law enforcement agencies. They are trained to kill and destroy the enemy. They aren't trained like police officers.
To use the military to police citizens is one of the worst things you can do. Not only is it a vast waste or resources and money, but the people themselves feel like the military is an occupying force (hint, hint Afghanistan/Iraq).
Police agencies are trained to deal with people and to restore order, protect citizens, uphold laws and settle conflicts between people. With the military, people are trained to kill and to survive. That's the scenario that the military has to consider. Dealing with civilians is on the low end of the stick. Trying to maneuver, outflank, and out gun al Qaeda is what the military should be thinking about.
Our military is not inventing a new blurred line. They wear uniforms, obey the laws of war and are responsive to a coherent chain of command all the way to the national level. It is those we fight that deliberately obliterated the line. If you want to get ideological, for our current enemies' leaders there is no line: you are doing what God wants, or you aren't.
Our military is dealing with a problem of success. They demonstrated such proficiency in open combat that only a fool would fight the Marines or Army over the gun barrels. Both the Fedayeen Saddam and the Taliban have tried it a few times, but it has proved costly to their forces. They get better results by attacking from ambiguous positions where we cannot bring all of our firepower down on them, and if we do we kill civilians. Either they get a tactical win by shooting one of our guys and getting away, or they contribute to strategic victory by inducing us to kill civilians and alienate the local population. Counterinsurgency is tough enough without killing locals.
I am wholeheartedly in favor of giving our soldiers an option that allows them to keep themselves safe(ish) without forcing them to be callous to the lives of non-Americans. We have a difficult enemy who is making things as tough as possible for us, as enemies will do. If we have decided that we are not going to bail out of Iraq and Afghanistan we are going to have to work around the barriers to success that the enemy creates. If we can do that technologically, fantastic.
With the many of the situations in conflict, and I use the term conflict instead of "War" due to the fact there there are numerous situations where one or more parties are no following the "Traditional rules of engagement" where Combatants and non-combatants are similar if not the same persons. It would basically like your grandmother pulling a weapon from their winter coat and firing on a military personnel. Does this mean than all elderly women with winter coats are to be determined as hostile and to be engaged with deadly force?
Remember that are military enroll real people that have to live with their actions once they have enacted on them. From that stand point would you yourself would rather disable a "suspicious person" or engage and kill them immediately?
In this day and time there are no clear rules of engagement there are no clear target or enemy. It's all gray now and with "less than lethal" weapons available to military person this would be quite useful... and I'm sure after taking a "non-lethal" 40 mike mike still would not be a walk in the park even without the electric discharge.
If i had one of these then the prez would be in hostage situation now in my hidden bunker in remote siberia with a army of cubans defending me(dont say i said this)
I can see this being useful in peacekeeping missions. For example, in Iraq hostiles can be mixed in with ordinary citizens. I suppose this type of weapon could reduce civilian casualties.
Looks pretty sweet to me. Can I have one?
I WANT ONE
@James Davis: What about trying to capture someone? Or you are unsure of whether or not a man is a hostile or civillian, and he runs. Take the chance he's gonna go warn his buddies, or peg him with something to shock him?
MR On the problem of duration of shocks. and im just a senior in high school so i wouldn't know the effects but instead of a continuous stream of shock why not put it in increments like shock, pause for a few seconds shock then pause again up to three minutes?
This issue with that is the few seconds that they have to remove the leads and recover before you make it to them which would be enough time for them to continue their specific activity.
As for an after thought, maybe having different types of rounds or "programmable" rounds that could administer a series of burst or a smaller duration of shock. If I were mistaken for a hostile but the persons judgment was to "test the waters" so to speak, he could "set phasers to stun" if you will. That would give me the time to throw my hands in the air and say uncle.
Any time someone can take control of an area without lethal force (without killing), it is always better. One can garner a great deal of intel along with removing the threat. Granted, I CANNOT imagine that this will be an "easy" task in any respect; however, I do believe that it will be the most beneficial in the long run.
A great deal of difficulty is routinely experienced with urban warfare. Having non-lethal means would cut down unexpected/unintentional crossfire casualties.
Plus, they just look cool!