Military Applications of Less Lethal Weapons
The current political landscape and its impact on military doctrine
Changing Role Of Military Operations and Use of Less Lethal Weapons
Global military roles have changed significantly in terms of its involvement in policing the civilian populations. This is where the military and local police forces cross-purposes in a common effort to uphold national security and regional law.
Militaries must be prepared to operate in what is called the MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War), where the use of lethal force is unacceptable.Today, military units are involved in on-going international conflicts that bring them into direct contact with civilian populations in Africa, the Baltic Region, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Soldiers deployed in humanitarian roles are often subject to strict rules of engagement threat. The military requires less lethal bullets and ammunition for use in crowd and riot control, perimeter security and pilfering situations. Militaries must be prepared to operate in what is called the MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War), where the use of lethal force is unacceptable.
The Introduction Of Less Lethal Ammunition
The U.K. Ministry of Defense developed rubber bullets for the British Army in Northern Ireland in the 1970s at the request of military officers. The officers wanted a weapon for use in civil disturbances with a range beyond a stone’s-throwing distance. Despite their use around the world, rubber bullets are generally found to be inaccurate and have been criticized for their unpredictable ricochets. They have caused numerous, severe injuries and several deaths. With rubber bullets, sponge, batons, foam, and bean bag rounds failing to serve their less lethal purpose effectively, there is a clear demand for munitions that achieve the goal of pain compliance without the risk of permanent injury or death.
Importance of Dual-Use Capabilities
In most foreign occupation situations, military units face threats from insurgents who intermingle with the civilian population to engage in asymmetrical tactics. Adversaries of the occupation often use endangerment of the civilian public as an argument to garner local and international support for their side. In this heated environment, less lethal ammunition solutions can provide a way to deal with insurgents without posing a fatal threat to the civilian population. Integrating dual-use technology that allows military units to toggle between lethal and less lethal weaponry, better prepares them for the foreign occupation environment.
There are frequent media reports of the military using lethal force at checkpoints against civilians. Soldiers at such checkpoints are usually equipped with only lethal assault weapons. An example of this was in the Afghanistan conflict, where soldiers were often faced with a shoot or no shoot option against suspected suicide bombers. Because of the lethality of suicide bombs, troops were put under enormous pressure to enforce compliance at distances of 100m.
Weapons can be adapted to use less lethal ammunition, allowing troops to achieve compliance without causing unnecessary fatalities. An example of this is the US Army’s M203 and M320.
There are variations of assault weapons that have the dual capability of firing high-explosive grenades and smoke charges, such as semi-automatic 40mm grenade launchers designed to fire high explosive, chemical and smoke charges. Weapons can be adapted to use less lethal ammo, allowing troops to achieve compliance without causing unnecessary fatalities. An example of this is the US Army’s M203 and M320. Similarly, the U.S. Army’s M-32 is another example of how 40 mm grenade launchers can be adapted with 40mm less lethal ammo for crowd control. These systems are a perfect adaptation for dealing with MOOTW scenarios increasingly encountered by the military.
Evolving Less Lethal Weapons Technology
There are currently a number of other LLW (Less Lethal Weapons) applications other than impact projectiles being developed for the military. These include technologies that are acoustic, radio frequency-based, microwave, infrared and laser in nature that can deliver pain for compliance purposes. These technologies generally require entirely new delivery systems and expensive research and development. For this reason, there is an economical advantage to less lethal weapons that can be implemented using existing delivery systems (40mm launchers).
Security Devices International
SDI is a defense technology company specializing in the development, manufacturing and sale of next generation 40mm less lethal ammunition.
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