War is Peace - Freedom is Slavery - Ignorance is Strength

Monday, September 20, 2004

Pentagon Announces Deployment of "Mother of All Microwave Rays"

The Telegraph, and Stars and Stripes have both recently reported that the Pentagon is currently readying an experimental Energy Beam Weapons System, knows as the “Active Denial System,” for deployment in Iraq by August of next year. The stated intent of the Pentagon is to use this weapon against civilian non-combatants, supposedly for the purpose of “crowd control.” Naturally, these articles raised many questions in my mind, such as “doesn’t shooting people with highly focused microwave beams seem - uh… - dangerous?

Of course not! And how can I be so sure that this system is perfectly safe? Because Rich Garcia, “a spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico” says so, that’s why. As quoted in The Telegraph, Garcia says that “when you get out of the path of the beam, or shut off the beam, everything goes back to normal. There's no residual pain." And what happens when you’re in the path of the beam? Not much really, “it just FEELS LIKE YOUR SKIN IS ON FIRE [caps added].” Oh - I see - no worries then.

Like most Pentagon statements, the answers here raise more questions than they put to rest.

When a spokesperson says that a weapon which makes you feel “like your skin is on fire” is perfectly safe, you immediately have to ask how they know that. According to an Air Force Research Laboratory “Fact Sheet,” they know the system is safe because they have been testing it on humans and animals for “several years” – sounds humane.

Another glaring question that these reports raise concerns the “experimental” status of this technology. Once again, according to the Air Force’s own “Fact Sheet,” (from 2003) an evaluation of this technology was not slated to be complete until the “end of 2005.” Now they plan to deploy this system in a combat zone for use against civilians even before the evaluation of its utility was scheduled to be finished. Either the MI Complex has made great strides in efficiency that I didn’t know about, or this system isn’t ready to be put in the field yet. My hunch would be the latter.

What happens if the “Mother of All Microwave Rays” does malfunction? What kind of injuries could be sustained by the civilians that this weapon is designed to target?

One must also consider the potential risk to our soldiers who will be relying on this experimental weapons system to defend themselves. Luckily this weapon is intended for use as a “defense” against unarmed civilians, so that risk may be limited to being forced to watch as Iraqis gather to protest the occupation policy, and exercise their human right to free speech.

While it is true that this weapon may be an improvement over the military’s current technique for dispersing crowds, which frequently seems to include firing missiles into them, it also clearly appears to be a disaster in waiting. Like the “terrorism futures market” proposed by another Pentagon research agency about a year ago, this is a Sci-Fi non-solution to a very real problem, which demonstrates how far afield our military leadership has wandered in their execution of the Occupation of Iraq. When you start thinking that Microwave Ray Guns are a good idea, isn’t seems clear – at least to me - that the time for withdrawing our troops from Iraq has come and passed.


-Stars and Stripes also says that “While the Pentagon is taking the lead in developing Project Sheriff, other agencies interested in the experiment’s progress include the Justice, Energy, and State departments and the FBI,” so if your lucky, you may be able to see this baby in action even if they don’t reinstate the draft.

-The Telegraph reports that the same vehicles being fitted with the MAMR, are also being equipped with “a rapid-fire gun currently under development that will detect enemy snipers and automatically fire back at them, [emphasis added]” which is known as “The Gunslinger” (And I didn’t even have to make that one up!) I wasn’t able to find any additional information on this weapon, but it sounds like a winner.

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