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US Deploys 'Heat-Ray' In Afghanistan

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the warming-up-to-the-idea dept.

The Military 406

Koreantoast writes "The United States military has deployed Raytheon's newly developed Active Denial System (ADS), a millimeter-wave, 'non-lethal' heat-ray, to Afghanistan. The weapon generates a 'burning sensation' that is supposedly harmless, with the military claiming that the chance of injury is at less than 0.1%; numerous volunteers including reporters over the last several years have experienced its effects during various trials and demonstrations. While US military spokesperson Lt. Col. John Dorrian states that the weapon has not yet been operationally used, the tense situation in theater will ensure its usage soon enough. Proponents of ADS believe the system may help limit civilian deaths in counterinsurgency operations and provide new, safer ways to disperse crowds and control riots, but opponents fear that the system's long-term effects are not fully known and that the device may even be used for torture. Regardless, if ADS is successful in the field, we'll probably see this mobile microwave at your next local protest or riot."

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406 comments

Yes, but... (4, Funny)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936356)

... is the defrost setting any good?

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936426)

No. It'll still cook the extremities leaving the core still frozen.

Re:Yes, but... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936540)

... is the defrost setting any good?

To hell with that how's the popcorn setting?

get your fresh hot burgers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936728)

fresh off the beams

Sounds ominously familiar... (2, Interesting)

ChaosCon (1503841) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936358)

That active denial system sounds eerily like the thermal discouragement beam...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFRbGppLaUI [youtube.com]

FoOd fOr ThOUghT.

Re:Sounds ominously familiar... (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936494)

It would have sounded even more familiar if it was called Active Internal Denial System...

Re:Sounds ominously familiar... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936508)

Heh... That thermal discouragement beam sounds more like a high-power laser...

You can protect yourself from the ADS (5, Informative)

stalkedlongtime (1630997) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936360)

Re:You can protect yourself from the ADS (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936806)

There's a missing ingredient in that recipe: a grain of salt. For instance, it says there that this "protects against most RF and EMF based attacks, including: ... Dielectric heating which causes cataracts". WTF? How can it protect your eyes, unless you wrap your head with the treated cloth?

Protection against unwanted electromagnetic fields is a technology called electromagnetic compatibility [wikipedia.org]. Unless you know what you are doing and use complex test equipment, results may not be what you expect.

Re:You can protect yourself from the ADS (1)

stalkedlongtime (1630997) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936864)

The article says iron-laced ink or paint. So, actually, if you were in a building with conductive paint coating the walls, your eyes would be protected too.

Re:You can protect yourself from the ADS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936862)

Given that the guide also mentions nerve control and implants, I'm going to have to put its credibility around the foil hat level.

(Honestly, instinct says cotton shirt + iron filings + microwaves = OH GOD MY SHIRT IS ON FIRE)

Re:You can protect yourself from the ADS (2, Insightful)

whovian (107062) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936898)

I imagine if you wear such treated clothing in an airport terahertz scanner, you would fall under suspicion and be taken to a private room for further investigation.

What? (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936364)

That miserable desert wasn't hot enough that they had to throw in a 'heat ray'?

Re:What? (2, Informative)

YomikoReadman (678084) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936802)

I know the whole dry heat thing is utterly cliched but once you get acclimated, it's honestly more comfortable than the hot point of summer in Baltimore/DC or the Southeast US.

Re:What? (4, Funny)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936894)

My years of playing AD&D taught me that most desert dwellers often have fire immunity, and that extends to side effects of fire and heat related effects, so I'm not sure this ray will be very effective over there.

I'm a bit concerned... (4, Funny)

cybereal (621599) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936366)

I'm a bit concerned about how this might interact with my tinfoil hat... and cod piece!

Re:I'm a bit concerned... (2, Interesting)

Civil_Disobedient (261825) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936492)

Tin foil hats will have to be outlawed, like bulletproof vests.

Only criminals need tinfoil hats. You ain't no CRIMINAL, is you?

Torture? Give me a break! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936368)

"the device may even be used for torture."

Hell, I can torture Muslims by forcing them to watch a Lady Gaga video.

Re:Torture? Give me a break! (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936482)

Hell, I can torture Muslims by forcing them to watch a Lady Gaga video.

I'm sure you could torture many heathens with a Lady Gaga video.

Re:Torture? Give me a break! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936870)

Erm, doesn't the Geneva accords have something to say about cruel and unusual punishment? Maybe I'm wrong on that one.....

Re:Torture? Give me a break! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936684)

I think people throw the term "torture" around too loosely. When people refer to spanking children as torture then the word kind of loses its meaning. Could this device be used to torture people? Sure, but they're not going to use it any more than they use tasers or similar "less-than-lethal" devices (which granted have their problems in regards to discretion, but that is a separate discussion). If they really wanted to torture you, they wouldn't spend millions of dollars on some whiz-bang ray guy; they would take you to a back room and do it the old fashioned way with a blunt instrument (insert obligatory xkcd link here). The question is not "will it be used for torture"; the question is "will it be used with discretion". I think we all know the unfortunate answer to that question.

Re:Torture? Give me a break! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936838)

Well, let's look at the definition of torture. The dictionary's definition, while it lacks detail, is quite obvious: "to intentionally inflict pain or suffering on (someone)". Of course, we could also turn to the UN Convention Against Torture, article 1 of which defines torture as "[a]ny act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as [...] punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed [...] or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind". Spanking quite obviously falls under this definition.

standard weapons test (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936380)

Should I say Americans test the prototype weapons on Afghans ? ;)
Well, this comment gets censored anyway...;)

Kind of a big jump... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936388)

Isn't it kind of a big jump to go from "weapon of war" to "local cops can afford this?" I don't think the VA Beach or Norfolk police can afford much of anything that Raytheon sells. Of course, neither article mentions the price of this thing, but the general rule is "if you have to ask, you can't afford it." Of course, its not like Posse Comitatus means anything anymore, so maybe they'll just get a unit from the local military base to come out for the day and "adivse" them with it.

Re:Kind of a big jump... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936568)

yep, or the military will buy ADS2 in a few years time, and flog the old ones cheap to police departments (which is normally how military equipment ends up in the hands of civilian police)

Re:Kind of a big jump... (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936644)

Stuff like this can be funded through DHS grants. It's true these are usually only six-figures so cities can buy trinkets, but I'm sure Raytheon can develop a "consumer version" that is a little cheaper so that every village with a population greater than 3 souls can have one.

Very troubling (5, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936400)

It's been known for over fifty years that microwaves, at just a few milliwatts per square centimeter, cause cataracts. That's why there are rather tight limits on microwave exposure around radar and telecom equipment.

Spraying microwaves around and possibly inducing mass blindness is not going to look good in the history books.

Re:Very troubling (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936430)

Actually, if that happens there would be grounds for war crimes trials. Blinding the enemy is definitely a war crime. But then again, it's not like the US is really big on prosecuting their own war criminals, except when it's convenient.

Re:Very troubling (5, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936502)

"Blinding the enemy is definitely a war crime."

NO. Using weapons to specifically blind the enemy is a crime.
If you blind them with fragments or fire as a consequence of trying to kill and maim them, that's perfectly acceptable.

If you blind a tank crewman whose head is exposed by painting the tank with a laser designator in order to shoot the tank that's perfectly acceptable.

If you use a weapon whose specific purpose is to blind an enemy rather than blinding some of them as collateral damage, that's a crime.

Citation:

"Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (Protocol IV to the 1980 Convention), 13 October 1995

Article 1 It is prohibited to employ laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices. The High Contracting Parties shall not transfer such weapons to any State or non-State entity.

Article 2 In the employment of laser systems, the High Contracting Parties shall take all feasible precautions to avoid the incidence of permanent blindness to unenhanced vision. Such precautions shall include training of their armed forces and other practical measures.

Article 3 Blinding as an incidental or collateral effect of the legitimate military employment of laser systems, including laser systems used against optical equipment, is not covered by the prohibition of this Protocol.

Article 4 For the purpose of this protocol "permanent blindness" means irreversible and uncorrectable loss of vision which is seriously disabling with no prospect of recovery. Serious disability is equivalent to visual acuity of less than 20/200 Snellen measured using both eyes."

Re:Very troubling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936590)

"NO. Using weapons to specifically blind the enemy is a crime."

That reminds me of listening to one soldier talk about Afghanistan when he was back between tours. Forgive me for not looking it up or remembering specific details, but he said some weapons are such a caliber and shoot so fast that you cannot use them against humans. So, they are ordered to "shoot the vehicles" or other enemy equipment which means everything around the target ends up sprayed.

Or, they will shoot right above the hiding enemy and if they get close enough, the shock wave due to the rounds of these weapons flying through the air is enough to make their skin rip open.

Then he said "I'm glad I'm on this side." I would be too.

Re:Very troubling (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936692)

Um, you do realize that I was right, your quote even reinforces that notion. The weapon system in question hasn't been tested to the standard required by article 2, as testing is definitely a requirement for feasible precautions to be taken. And without it there's no realistic way of knowing at what point it becomes unreasonably dangerous.

Re:Very troubling (4, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936724)

The "Protocol on Laser Weapons" has nothing to do with this issue.

The weapon under discussion is not a laser. The wavelength it emits is at least a thousand times longer. It comes out of a waveguide, not out of a optical lens.

You are completely wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936516)

Only weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness are banned. See the convention on this. [wikipedia.org] Since this weapon primary function is not blinding, this would fall outside this protocol.

In summary, you are wrong on this.

Re:Very troubling (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936958)

Only if you lose. I've never heard of war crimes trials being conducting against the winning side, have you?

Re:Very troubling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936448)

We microwaves guys know that the eyeballs and the testicles are the first to go with excessive RF exposure.

By the way, our max permissible exposure limit was 5 milliwatts per square centimeter.

-- Ethanol-fueled, posting incognito

Re:Very troubling (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936580)

You left out the frequency dependency which means you are talking shit.

Re:Very troubling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936456)

Not just cataracts but problems with any exposed soft tissue in general. Radio operators have known this for a very long time. Eyes, mucus membranes, eardrums, etc. One of the primary rules of working with microwave radios is not to look into the feed-horn.

For the same reason I don't spend a lot of time looking into the microwave oven while it's cooking (there is always some leakage).

Re:Very troubling (1, Insightful)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936472)

As opposed to bullets, which have been known to cause death. Seems fair enough. Cataracts vs. death?

Re:Very troubling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936538)

If this weapon is not lethal will the troops shoot everyone they can? This has the potential of killing and crippling so many more people, but without the emotional baggage of pulling the trigger.

Re:Very troubling (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936750)

In much the same way that soldiers have to shoot full metal jacket ball ammo, even in pistols, against enemy soldiers, whereas civilian cops carry hollowpoints, typically in rounds with much higher ballistic properties (.40s&w or .357Sig are comperable to .357 magnum, but in a shorter round. MUCH more powerful than 9mm). Basically, if a state trooper shoots you, you're less likely to survive than if a soldier shoots you.

Re:Very troubling (2, Interesting)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936948)

Did you even think about what you typed before you hit 'submit'? State Police will put 9 rounds into you, maximum. Soldiers will put that many in a burst, and you might get a couple bursts.

If you take a single shot from a state policeman's sidearm, and a single shot from a soldier's sidearm, I would agree with you. But many soldiers are behind SAWs like the BAR, or are looking down the barrel of an M2.

I don't give a shit what the ammo is made of - if it's got some metal in it, and is coming at me at 4, 5, 6 rounds per second, my survivability isn't going to be all that high.

Sure, a soldier's last-resort, government-issued sidearm isn't as lethal as a state police officer's privately purchased first line of defense. Why would you expect it to be, when the soldier has some badass firepower, and the state police officer has just a single sidearm, and maybe a shotgun in the trunk?

That said, I agree with your point continuing the GP's that international law regarding weapons of war is pretty backwards.

Re:Very troubling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936936)

> It's been known for over fifty years that microwaves, at just a few
> milliwatts per square centimeter, cause cataracts.

The level of microwave radiation that causes cataracts is higher than that -- more like 150 mW/cm2 for 100 minutes; see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_burn#Eyes [wikipedia.org]

"For the near field 2.45 GHz frequency, the minimum power density to cause cataracts in rabbits was found to be 150 mW/cm2 for 100 minutes; a retrolental temperature of 41 C was necessary to be achieved."

Another typical unit of measure is SAR -- Specific Absorption Rate -- which is a rating for power vs mass, and is thus easier to deal with. A rabit gets cataracts at power levels around 100 - 140 W/kg SAR after exposure of 2 to 3 hours.

What is not commonly known is that flesh is best heated in the VHF frequency range -- around 30 - 300 MHz. In the microwave frequency region, the majority of the energy incident on flesh is reflected. At the same time, the "skin depth", or depth of penetration into the skin, DROPS as frequency is increased, which means that it gets more focused at the surface of the skin.

The Active Denial System is capable of causing cataracts, but the recipient of the energy has to be stubborn enough to stand there and look at it while being burned, rather than turning their head or covering the face with a hand.

Failure rate? (4, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936408)

FTFA: "the US military says the chance of injury from the system is 0.1%. It's already been tested more than 11,000 times"

So, there has already been eleven injuries from that?

Re:Failure rate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936422)

More worryingly - statistically when used on a crowd of 1000 people, one will be injured.

Re:Failure rate? (2, Insightful)

sjwt (161428) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936490)

Because we al know when the cops show up to bust up a crowd of 1,000 protestors, no one gets hurt.

Re:Failure rate? (0, Troll)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936534)

The 870 local people in the crowd are dispersed by the cops and unhurt. Of the 130 bused-in 'anarchists' who remain to 'fight the pig' maybe 10-20% are hurt. Unfortunately, not hurt enough that they won't bus off to the next 'demo' the next week to break more windows and create gratuitous mayhem.

Re:Failure rate? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936582)

Of the 130 bused-in 'anarchists' ...

Oh, yes, because the politicians in power are always right and anyone who disagrees is a bused-in mercenary who creates gratuitous mayhem.

Re:Failure rate? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936610)

The 870 local people in the crowd are dispersed by the cops and unhurt. Of the 130 bused-in 'anarchists' who remain to 'fight the pig' maybe 10-20% are hurt. Unfortunately, not hurt enough that they won't bus off to the next 'demo' the next week to break more windows and create gratuitous mayhem.

I know folks do love their non-lethal weapons these days but there's something to be said for busting some punk's scalp open with a nightstick and leaving him with knots on his head to remind him to not fuck with the man. Compare and contrast with tazing which leaves them caterwauling and screeching about their rights and lawsuits. Good old nightstick liberally applied to the noggin leaves them bleeding, dazed, confused and generally subdued.

Re:Failure rate? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936908)

Actually, the way it works is that the cops seal off all exits from the area, then order all 1000 to disperse, beat up any who don't seem to be showing enough fear^H^H^H^H respect for authority, and arrest 100 or so for "failure to disperse" (based on personal appearance) or for "assaulting an officer" (based on mouthing off), 20 or 30 for legitimate property offenses, and another 10 or so for "assaulting an officer" (based on something a normal person would think resembled actual assault). Then they let the other 900 file out through a bottleneck somewhere, whacking any who don't appear duly cowed.

For extra credit, many police agencies will plant provocateurs to incite the crowd. Appears to be somewhat less common in the US.

Re:Failure rate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936872)

Give them a "non lethal dispersal device" and they will be more inclined to use it. Look up the true meaning of "shoot to kill" and then contrast that with non-lethal weapons that have a chance of seriously injuring or killing someone. I'd rather face a well trained policeman with a gun, who knows the consequences of using it (to both himself and me) than an average doughnut jockey issued with a "non lethal" device.

Re:Failure rate? (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936548)

They will just redefine "injuries" to a meaning around or beyond causing permanent damage to vital organs by intentional misuse.
Terms like "pre-existing medical conditions" in the press can also get that number down even if your family has a forensic pathologist.

Re:Failure rate? (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936654)

They will just redefine "injuries" to a meaning around or beyond causing permanent damage to vital organs by intentional misuse. Terms like "pre-existing medical conditions" in the press can also get that number down even if your family has a forensic pathologist.

So instead of Taser's "excited delirium," we will have a lot of "Islamic glaucoma"?

Re:Failure rate? (3, Insightful)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936836)

I just love it. Once, a long long time ago, people were upset that the army uses lethal weapons to disperse unarmed crowds in conflict areas. So the army sits down to develop non-lethal weapons - they cost more than guns, they are usually harder to operate (sorry, no citation) and place the soldiers in more danger (you are safer if you just shoot the opponent).
What happens? Is everyone happy that the army is trying to lower the death counts in those conflict areas? No, people complain: "This is not safe", "this causes cataracts", "this hurts someone in 0.1% of the cases" (notice: injury, not death), "this makes them unhappy", "this causes chronic impotency". I mean, WTF? yes, we want to find safer weapons*, but let's give them some slack, at least they stopped using friggin' bullets in their friggin' heads!

* - Safer weapon - the oxymoron of the year!

The chances of anything coming from Mars (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936414)

The chances of anything coming from Mars...

Yup, heat ray is absolutely safe!

Bah. (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936442)

Rather than high-tech indiscriminate non-lethal weapons, the US should invest much more in intelligence gathering and infiltration. Which is difficult, but just because slapping a shiny new weapon into the battlefield is easier, doesn't mean it's better.

Re:Bah. (2, Insightful)

Alef (605149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936510)

Shiny new weapons have the distinct advantage that the guys holding the purse can look at and touch what they have paid for once it has been built. It is usually much harder to raise funds for "soft" work, I guess both for the psychological reason that it's not as easy to put a mental value into something that is abstract, but also for the very practical reason that it's harder for the buyers to verify that they actually got what they were promised.

Re:Bah. (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936542)

It's not a binary choice.

An investment in intel won't necessarily stop riots, especially riots calculated to provoke violent retaliation without regard to own-side casualties. Less-lethal weapons won't produce bloody martyr cell phone footage. :) Smart opponents want martyrs, especially when the martyrs aren't their own operative and are just expendable locals they may not care for anyway or actively dislike.

Intel isn't something you can (always) buy. though that IS a good idea if done carefully.

Re:Bah. (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936656)

It's not a binary choice.

An investment in intel won't necessarily stop riots, especially riots calculated to provoke violent retaliation without regard to own-side casualties. Less-lethal weapons won't produce bloody martyr cell phone footage. :) Smart opponents want martyrs, especially when the martyrs aren't their own operative and are just expendable locals they may not care for anyway or actively dislike.

Intel isn't something you can (always) buy. though that IS a good idea if done carefully.

While I agree with most of your points (good post), I am personally of the opinion that good intelligence would ALSO impede those kinds of riots you talk about, if not immediately then in the long run, by eliminating the ringleaders of the Taliban, which would incite those riots. Using the microwave weapon to quell the riots, even though non-lethal, will cause resentment as much as a few dead rioters would. Totally IMHO.

Re:Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936858)

USA are either soft or dummies for not playing the religion card, or maybe prevented because
those at the top don't think its sporting.
Coat bullets in pigs blood.
Let martyrs know they will be buried in a grave with a pig/pigs blood.
Let criminals/deserters/helpers know the punishment will have pigs blood in it.
And do what the Russians did: Let the women dob in bad menfolk, who then cop a beating ie give women real power.

These boy toys are not a solution to everyday drive out there and patrol stuff.

Re:Bah. (1)

nitrogensixteen (812667) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936570)

The US was doing that. It was called the Human Terrain System, run by JIEDDO to defeat IED's at all levels. Once they ran into intelligence territory, they started stepping on too many toes and favors got called in and shut the whole thing down. Remember when the CIA had to create their own signals intelligence arm to track Osama Bin Laden because the NSA was treating them like mushrooms?

Pah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936464)

Nothing my tin foil suit can't handle.

It'll be just like plastic bullets (5, Insightful)

andywebsdale (715221) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936474)

The cops or soldiers that use them will work out how to make the weapon have far worse effects than were intended.They *always* do.
  For example, trapping fleeing civilians against a wall or fence so that they can't esape, or more than one beam focussed on one person. (Incidentally, one technique with plastic bullets or baton rounds is to ricochet them off the street, so that they shatter and rebound up into the victims face)
Like tasers, they say that they're a 'non-lethal' alternative to guns, but in reality they still use guns the same as they always did, but now use tasers when they would just have grabbed someone & handcuffed them, or just spoke to them.

Question.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936486)

I don't really know anything about microwave physics...or any kind of wave physics, but would holding a metal sheet in front of you (either flat or curved) be effective in dispersing the energy directed towards the crowd/enemy, or maybe even direct it back towards the operator of the device?

Extensively tested (5, Funny)

MalHavoc (590724) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936496)

The 'burning sensation' was developed and extensively tested based on the US military's prior experience in the Red Light district of Amsterdam and Eddie Murphy's stand up comedy.

0.1% injury rate (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936500)

that means 20 popped eyeballs every time you turn it at a middling crowd of protesters?

If you point it at a crwod of 1000 people (3, Informative)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936624)

One of them will be serious injured. (statistics an lies...)

But still it surely better than the current mandate the soldier in afganistan have. Their main weapon now are bullits and heavier variant, and it is no suprise that a lot of people are killed because of this. Some might be civiliians (it is not a traditional war after all). If you point a automatic weapon at a crowd, the odds that you hurt lots of people is much higher.

A better solution would be that the US invasion force would have to keep to laws like police would have to, but having less lethal weapons might be a working alternative.

Telling name (4, Interesting)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936514)

The abbreviation, which could mean any number of things, is telling of the military habit to name destructive, harmful things with innocuous sounding phrases that do not imply damage "Active Denial System" could just as easily have been a web term or a feature of an antivirus program. Imagine a TV ad: "Norton's Active-Denial-System or ADS is proven to..." This is shared by government which will often use formal, even flowery language to cover up a practice which is morally or ethically contentious:

For instance, a military spokeman or officer or a high-up politician cannot very well come out and say this without coming off badly from it: "We believe that as we kill off our opponents in the Taliban a number of civilian casualties are necessary to allow our victory."

Therefore you get pretentious, padded-out diction like this: "We concede that the Taliban are a formidable foe who possess a humanitarian record that we can only describe as deplorable. However if we are to restore and preserve the freedoms of the Afghan people, and we think you'd agree with us on this, that a certain number of hazards for those present in the field are bound up in these transitional times are justified in the context of the achievement of the coalition's greater goals: We're in the sphere of granting those formerly under oppression a life of liberty, free of oppression and terrorism."

This sort of puffed out prose is a long-time euphemism which has only proliferated over the 100 and more years - masses of Latin words lengthen a point, and those who do listen can't be bothered digging out the true meaning which was basically that civilian deaths can't be avoided and are actually needed for the coalition to win. The end justifies the means. But in our hypothetical wording up there this was disguised: The great enemy of clear writing is insincerity. A well-known author named George Orwell wrote much on this and his essays are recommended.

"Put your hand in the box." (1, Interesting)

Deal-a-Neil (166508) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936524)

Reminds me of Dune. "I hold at your neck the gom jabbar."

Re:"Put your hand in the box." (5, Interesting)

nitrogensixteen (812667) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936578)

Ever felt one of those sensory illusion devices that has a stack of parallel tubes with alternating hot and cold lines? The hot lines are not enough to burn you, but when you put your skin across the stack, your heat sensing system interprets the feeling as intense burning. Closest thing I ever felt to the black box.

Re:"Put your hand in the box." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936602)

Glad you posted this, it's the first thing i thought as well!
And then reading the other replies i guess it's also a little like the 'stone burner' that burns out Paul's eyes in the 2nd book.
Dune in the news!

Psychological Effect (3, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936820)

Actually, I think this weapon, oh sorry, device might have a frightening psychological effect on folk who can't really comprehend what the thing is doing. They know about guns that shoot bullets. But this thing didn't shoot anything, but they're suddenly feeling uncomfortably hot.

"Yo, they're using black magic! Is that allowed by the Geneva Conventions?"

Remember, when the first US troops arrived in Afghanistan, the Afghanis thought that mirrored sunglasses had X-ray vision, so that the soldiers could peep at their wives. Even if the local Taliban leader has a microwave oven at home and tries to explain:

"Do no worry! It is harmless! It is just like my microwave oven here . . . oh, um . . . "

War of The Worlds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936526)

Maybe the Black Smoke (as described by H G Wells) would be more useful at flushing Al Quaeda/Taliban out of their caves...

Horrible (4, Insightful)

Voulnet (1630793) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936544)

This is totally horrible.

Just like tasers, this will give nincompoops of military the freedom to hurt civilians and innocent people on the grounds that it won't 'harm' or 'kill' them.
It just gives them more incentive to be trigger happy against the civilians because the aggressors (read: military or police personnel) won't fear consequences of being court martialed for murder and there will be less public outcry against 'harmless' methods of crowd control.

This is just an alternative to the golden military rule: "Double check your fucking target", turning it into "Shoot your fucking target, if it happens to be the wrong one, just apologize".

Re:Horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936620)

Just like tasers in another way, too: soon to be coming to a city near you to control you and your friends at legal, but politically inconvenient, demonstrations. You can put money on it.

Re:Horrible (2, Informative)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936670)

Instances like this [metro.co.uk] really paint a nice picture of how ridiculous the use of "non-lethal" weapons have gotten.

Re:Horrible (1, Insightful)

Voulnet (1630793) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936702)

Great, now high school dropouts can test it against all sorts of wheel-chair ridden Afghani people, they can also use it against veiled Afghani women so they can see how fast the veil burns. Yes, I'm not kidding, you all know the fools of military will be having some fun with it against innocent people under the excuse of crowd control, where a crowd might be less than 20 people lining up for bread.

Concerned that it could be used for torture? (0, Troll)

binkless (131541) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936572)

Good grief - safety pins can be used for torture - maybe they should be banned!

Re:Concerned that it could be used for torture? (5, Insightful)

Xelios (822510) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936592)

Lots of things can be used for torture, but the list of things that leave no evidence of torture behind is much shorter.

Umm... .1%? (4, Insightful)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936588)

That means you point it at 1000 people and one of them will be injured. In what way? Skin burns or toasted cerebral cortex?

If some over-aggressive soldier leaves it on too long, does that make the number .2% or 10%?

How long do we have to point it at people to change that to 100%? 1000 times too long or just a few seconds too much?

It's all a PITA (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936598)

This is why I prefer the M-60 machine gun. After firing a few thousand rounds of 7.62mm NATO down the street, all you need to clean up is a firehose.

"safer" means used more (5, Insightful)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936616)

The "safer" a weapon is, the less the restrictions and controls over it's use, and the more often it is used.

As we have seen with tasers, people begin to see them as a tool which achieves their objective with minimal repercussions. There follows a normalisation process resulting in usage becoming considered appropriate even in situations where other forms of violence would be considered unacceptable. Like when trying to stop a student making a scene as he is leaving the premises as requested. Tasers were touted as a less violent option to bullets, instead they seem to be used as a more violent option to wrestling (and, if you go by Youtube, talking).

Even if the technology is 100% safe and cannot result in permanent injury, it is still the exercise of pain and violence in controlling civilians and must be very tightly controlled. Instead there seems to be very little interest in the misapplication of violence by officials if nobody dies.

Seriously, making people feel like they are on fire in order to "disperse crowds"?

Re:"safer" means used more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936786)

I totally agree.

This also has a secondary problem, it allows the money/power to control larger crowds. Extreme pain without death is perhaps even worse than just shooting everyone, not to mention it creates an easy exception to use the methods and I don't see even corporations being given the right to use these weapons, since they obviously don't kill anyone.

Secretary: Oh dear.. mr Chairman, there is a large crowd protesting us dumping arsenic into the drinking water.
Chairman: Just shoot them with the heat rays.

Lethal and non-lethal methods shouldn't have different law where it refers to ranged weapons. It should simply be the duty of the law enforcement to do their best not to kill anyone.

Good against riots, but ... (3, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936648)

... in Afghanistan they smile and wave as you drive by. Then they whip out their cell phones and trigger the IED. How's your heat ray against that?

If this is just an excuse to see if a new gizmo works by harassing a few villagers with it, it'll make an excellent recruiting tool for the Taliban.

And so it goes.... (3, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936700)

And so the use of force to perpetrate democracy, freedom, and capitalism continues unabated, it seems. Brought to you by the same group of people responsible for the fair-minded genius of ACTA.

As With Tazers (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936794)

Where people might be hesitant to use lethal force due to the consequences, I suspect that they'll be all to willing to use "non-lethal" weapons as soon as things start to look remotely ugly. Or possibly for no reason at all. It's a lot harder to prove that an incident occurred if it doesn't leave bodies behind. Of course, they'll know their actions are wrong and will attempt to make it illegal to record incidents where the weapon is used, much as police departments are trying to prevent recordings of officers now so that there will be no documented proof of police brutality.

Dumb (1)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936866)

Yep. I'm sure feeling a bit of heat is really going to work on a Taliban fellow who grew up in a desert. When guys like that are picking a fight, there are two things they understand: dead and not dead. If not dead, keep fighting.

Crowd control in space (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936878)

Reading about this weapon always reminds me of the one in E. M. Unfred's prison on the Moon:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/13783502/Weaseljumper-Part-III [scribd.com]

"I followed Jae and No-man through the silent corridors of the Penitentiary. The cells were all empty and the doors stood open. The autocams pivoted to aim at us as we passed by. Their plasma dart canisters, which I assumed were empty, hung menacingly from them. I knew what those things could do: they were designed for mob suppression, on the really, really good theory that a quick way to command the attention and respect of a band of Penitentiary inmates driven to insane rage by the monotony of four gray walls and constant subliminal suggestions of happy conformity would be to boil off the unlucky ones in the front row, leaving the rest of the group retching on the nauseating vapors. The plasma dart was a favorite weaseler toy. One had only to be careful not to use it on a weasel, for those fumes would corrode your lungs and your chest would cave in and you would have to be disposed of as toxic waste."

I agree - no heat rays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32936922)

Instead, the next time we link a terrorist act to a training location, we nuke the place. Everyone wants to reduce the number of nukes in our arsenal, too, so this should be a double-win for the pacifists.

(non non-americans were hurt in preparing this post)

Test overseas, then deploy in the USA (0, Flamebait)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 3 years ago | (#32936972)

Can't test it in America, on it's own people, the people wouldn't stand for it, but test it on the "terrorist" and the USA won't care, then, when they perfect it, they can bring it over to the USA, and when Obamacare kicks in, and the rest of the constitutionally guaranteed rights are taken away and the people rise up, they can use it on it's own people.
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