Marine Forces Europe Demon­strate Non-Lethal Weapons Capa­bil­i­ties

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

STUTTGART, Ger­many, Sept. 25, 2008 — Marine Forces Europe today show­cased its non-lethal weapons pro­gram, which pro­gram man­ag­er Lt. Col. Hold­en Dun­ham told vis­it­ing civil­ian lead­ers brings unique capa­bil­i­ty to U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand in cir­cum­stances that demand less than dead­ly force.
The Marine Corps is the Defense Department’s exec­u­tive agent for non-lethal weapons and devices that intim­i­date or inflict pain or dis­com­fort, but don’t kill, Dun­ham told the busi­ness, gov­ern­ment and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers on a tour of U.S. bases in Europe this week as part of the department’s Joint Civil­ian Ori­en­ta­tion Con­fer­ence.

With­in the com­mand, the Marines are respon­si­ble for iden­ti­fy­ing non-lethal require­ments and fill­ing those needs through direct, off-the-shelf pur­chas­es or devel­op­ment pro­grams.

Vis­it­ing the command’s head­quar­ters at Panz­er Kaserne, the civil­ians walked among dis­plays of non-lethal weapons rang­ing from ear-split­ting acoustic devices that project nois­es a quar­ter-mile away to pep­per spray, sting-ball grenades, plas­tic bul­lets and Tasers. Many of the devices they saw are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These devices can be used indi­vid­u­al­ly or togeth­er, giv­ing ser­vice­mem­bers an alter­na­tive to more vio­lent respons­es. “These weapons won’t kill you, but they’ll sure make you cry, ‘uncle,’ ” Dun­ham said. “The whole idea behind these is that the effects are reversible.”
“They add that oth­er tool to the tool­box,” agreed Sgt. Joey Lazzeri­ni, who, like Dun­ham, is a Marine Corps reservist assigned to the com­mand. “They’re the right tools for a sit­u­a­tion that you can de-esca­late… before it gets to the lethal realm.”
Dun­ham described the chal­lenge his Marines con­front­ed dur­ing their 2004 deploy­ment to Rama­di, Iraq. Sui­cide bombers had been storm­ing check­points and inflict­ing heavy casu­al­ties. Marines man­ning the check­points knew every approach­ing vehi­cle could be anoth­er attack, and were ready to react.
If a dri­ver did­n’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to orders to stop, the Marines had split sec­onds to deter­mine if the dri­ver was tak­ing offen­sive action, or sim­ply did­n’t under­stand what he was being asked to do.
Non-lethal weapons – such as arrest­ing nets that attach to tires and lock up axles – can give troops the crit­i­cal extra sec­onds to make that deter­mi­na­tion. “With­out non-lethal weapons, the only option would be to use lethal force,” Dun­ham said.
Non-lethal weapons don’t elim­i­nate the use of dead­ly force, and all Marines are trained to apply dead­ly force when nec­es­sary to pro­tect them­selves and their com­rades. “Non-lethal weapons don’t restrict his rules of engage­ment, they just give him more options,” Dun­ham said. “We want to give them a force con­tin­u­um.”
The Marines pro­vide train­ing in non-lethal weapons to U.S. and allied troops through­out Euro­pean Com­mand.
Shel­lie Solomon, chief oper­a­tions offi­cer for Jus­tice and Secu­ri­ty Strate­gies, a con­sult­ing firm that spe­cial­izes in law enforce­ment pol­i­cy, said she was impressed to see the lev­el at which the depart­ments of Defense and Jus­tice are work­ing togeth­er to advance non-lethal weapons tech­nol­o­gy. “These tools pro­vide both law enforce­ment and sol­diers with a con­tin­u­um of force that results in saved lives,” she said.

The JCOC group’s next stop today was to Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand Europe, where mem­bers saw a demon­stra­tion of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in urban ter­rain, fired spe­cial oper­a­tions weapons and vis­it­ed with a spe­cial oper­a­tions unit.

The first U.S. defense sec­re­tary, James V. For­re­stal, cre­at­ed the JCOC pro­gram in 1948 to intro­duce civil­ian “movers and shak­ers” with lit­tle or no mil­i­tary expo­sure to the work­ings of the armed forces. Near­ly six decades lat­er, it remains DoD’s pre­mier civic leader pro­gram.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)