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News from the National Academies
Date: Nov. 4, 2002
Contacts: Barbara J. Rice, Deputy Director
Corbin Arberg, Media Relations Assistant
(202) 334-2138; e-mail <news@nas.edu>

For Immediate Release

Developing Effective Non-Lethal Weapon Options Is Needed
To Enhance Naval Force Capabilities

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of the Navy should move toward integrating non-lethal weapons -- designed to incapacitate people or materiel while minimizing unintended death and damage -- into naval warfighting requirements, research and development programs, acquisition plans, and operations, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. In addition, the joint program conducted since 1996 by all the services to develop non-lethal weapons should change significantly to foster the needed research for development within a reasonable time frame.

"Though this study was originally requested prior to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, it was conducted in its aftermath, when a more urgent need for non-lethal weapons emerged for the Navy," said Miriam E. John, chair of the committee that wrote the report and vice president, California Division, Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore. "In particular, non-lethal weapons are an additional way to provide greater security for military bases and protect our forces. Our report gives the Navy and Marine Corps specific recommendations to improve their non-lethal capabilities."

Recognizing the value of non-lethal weapons in a variety of military operations, such as urban peacekeeping efforts, counterterrorism, and force protection, the U.S. Department of Defense created the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate under the purview of the U.S. Marine Corps. Since its implementation, the directorate has operated with modest funding. The Department of the Navy has made little investment in non-lethal weapons science and technology, even though these weapons are well-suited to the needs of naval expeditionary forces, the committee found.

The directorate has made some progress in laying the groundwork for weapons development, such as acquiring existing technologies and demonstrating a vehicle-mounted system that uses heat produced by high-power microwaves to stop vehicles and vessels. However, significant shifts in emphasis and resources are now required to meet the program's goals.

One obstacle to progress is a lack of new ideas developed cooperatively between the directorate and the military services' science and technology programs, the committee found. Because of its high visibility and small budget, the directorate has been forced to focus too much on relatively mature technologies while investing little in developing new capabilities. In addition, the process for introducing non-lethal weapons into the development and acquisition cycle for each of the military services needs to be improved. Most important is a greater emphasis on understanding the effects of non-lethal weapons on intended targets and whether those effects are useful for military operations and within the bounds of treaty constraints.

The committee recommended that highest priority should be placed on four science and technology areas of non-lethal weapons research and development, to support naval expeditionary forces. These include developing calmatives and malodorants in accordance with treaty obligations to control crowds and clear facilities; more advanced directed-energy systems for stopping vehicles or vessels; novel and rapidly deployable marine barrier systems to stop attack vessels and protect perimeters; and unmanned or remotely piloted vehicles and sensors to provide warning, localization, and tracking of potential enemy threats.

The study was sponsored by the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate and the Office of Naval Research. The National Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.

Copies of An Assessment of Non-Lethal Weapons Science and Technology will be available this winter from the National Academies Press; tel. (202) 334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a pre-publication copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).



NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Naval Studies Board

Committee for an Assessment of Non-Lethal Weapons Science and Technology

Miriam E. John (chair)
Vice President
California Division
Sandia National Laboratories
Livermore

John B. Alexander
Consultant
The Apollinaire Group
Las Vegas

Michael B. Berger
Program Director for Energy and Environment
Logistics Management Institute
McLean, Va.

Ruth A. David1
President and Chief Executive Officer
Analytic Services Inc.
Arlington, Va.

Clay E. Easterly
Leader
Virtual Human Project
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Milton Finger
Deputy Director
Department of Defense Programs Office
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Livermore, Calif.

Charles A. Fowler1
Independent Consultant
Sudbury, Mass.

Charles Higgs
Assistant Leader
Laser and Sensor Applications
Lincoln Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lexington

Phil C. Houser
Senior Manager for Advanced Programs
Washington Office
Raytheon Co.
Arlington, Va.

John W. Hutchinson1,2
Gordan McKay Professor of Applied Mechanics
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.

Albert I. King1
Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and
Director, Bioengineering Center
Wayne State University
Detroit

Annette J. Krygiel
Independent Consultant
Great Falls, Va.

James W. Meyer
Independent Consultant
Rochester, N.Y.

Robert B. Oakley
Ambassador (retired), and
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Institute for National Strategic Studies
National Defense University
Washington, D.C.

Steven H. Scott
Manager
Access Delay Technology Department
Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, N.M.

William M. Tolles
Independent Consultant
Alexandria, Va.

Paul K. Van Riper
Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), and
Independent Consultant
Williamsburg, Va.


RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

Charles F. Draper
Study Director


1 Member, National Academy of Engineering
2 Member, National Academy of Sciences