Non-lethal weapons have been used by security forces to deter hostile crowds. They fill gaps between verbal warnings and lethal force. They have been found useful in disaster management like in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, where non-lethal weapons were used when riots occurred at food distribution sites.
The security forces fighting urban warfare desire scalable effect weapons for personal incapacitation, that subdue and/or incapacitate ( not kill) single or multiple targets in closed or open environments. Weapons are also required for vehicle interdiction that could stop/disable moving vehicle, up to high rates of speed, without harming vehicle occupants. Such weapons are also called Nonlethal Weapons. The need for non-lethal weapons is also increasing for the maritime environment where terrorists used small boats as the asymmetric weapon of choice, indistinguishable in heavily trafficked littorals.
Nonlethal weapons are also being increasingly employed by military and have been used by U.S. forces in Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti. Militaries are developing non-lethal weapons for soldiers that incapacitate the threat instead of killing them for future conflicts.
Employment of Microwave Non-Lethal Weapons
One of the type of nonlethal weapons that immobilize are radio frequency weapons. These weapons come in a wide variety of choices; not all are designed for antipersonnel use, but categorizing them in this classification seems appropriate. A 1993 U. S. Air Command and Staff College paper entitled “Non-Lethal Technology and Air Power” documented low frequency, “acoustic” and high power microwave weapons that could deter or debilitate humans.
The revelation that CIA agents were targeted by a sophisticated microwave weapon while in Australia in 2019 proves such devices are real, a security expert said. The two officials were in their hotel rooms when they heard ringing in their ears and started feeling dizzy and sick, according to GQ magazine. The symptoms are consistent with ‘Havana syndrome’, named after diplomats at the US embassy in Cuba who became sick in 2016. Since then there have been reports the condition was caused by a microwave or acoustic weapon. “This latest incident proves it is a real thing,” Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Analysis of mobile phone data placed Russian agents close the hotel where the CIA agents were staying. Dr Jennings said it would take a sophisticated device to cause the attack. “For this to be plausible, they are now talking about a technology that is highly pinpoint so you can hit a bedroom or hotel room, and is highly mobile,” he said. Dr Jennings said the reported incident showed a new level of disturbing behaviour by Russia’s state intelligence.
The conclusion by a committee of 19 experts in medicine and other fields cited “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy” as “the most plausible mechanism” to explain the illness, which came to be known as Havana syndrome, though they said that they could not rule out other possible causes and that secondary factors may have contributed to symptoms, according to a copy of the report obtained by The New York Times. The report, which was commissioned by the State Department, provides the most definitive explanation yet of the illness that struck scores of government employees, first at the U.S. Embassy in Havana in 2016, and then in China and other countries. Many of the officers suffered from dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and loss of hearing, memory and balance, and some were forced into permanent retirement.
It attributes the illnesses to “directed” and “pulsed” — rather than “continuous” — energy, implying that the victims’ exposure was targeted and not the result of more common sources of microwave energy, such as, for example, a cellphone. It also said the committee found the immediate symptoms that patients reported — including strange sensations of pain, pressure and sound that often appeared to emanate from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room — were more consistent with a directed “attack” of radiofrequency energy.
The report recommends that the State Department act now to establish plans and protocols so it can immediately begin an investigation if similar incidents occur. “The larger issue is preparedness for new and unknown threats that might compromise the health and safety of U.S. diplomats serving abroad,” the report concludes. “The next event may be even more dispersed in time and place, and even more difficult to recognize quickly.”
Moscow has denied any role, and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, has not concluded the Kremlin was responsible. But some C.I.A. analysts who are Russia experts, diplomats and scientists contend that evidence points to Moscow, which has a long history of experimenting with the technology.
The directed high-power microwaves damage equipment, particularly electronics, without killing nearby people. Today, research in high-power microwaves continues in the U.S. and Russia but has exploded in China. Dozens of countries now have active high-power microwave research programs. The Russians and the Chinese certainly possess the capabilities of fielding high-power microwave sources like the ones that appear to have been used in Cuba and China.
Sceptics of the microwave weapon theory have pointed to decades of US efforts to build such a device during the cold war and since, without any confirmed success. They have also argued that a weapon capable of inflicting brain injury from a distance would be too unwieldy to use in urban areas.
However, James Lin, the leading US authority on the biological impact of microwave energy, said a large apparatus would not be needed to focus energy on a small area, heating it a minute amount and causing “a thermoelastic pressure wave” that travels through the brain, causing damage to soft tissue. “You can certainly put together a system in a couple of big suitcases that will allow you to put it in a van or an SUV,” Lin, professor emeritus in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Illinois, said. “It’s not something that you need to have enormous amounts of space or equipment to do it.”
WaveBand’s former president and CEO, Lev Sadovnik, said he was limited in what he was allowed to say about the project, but said the immediate effects of MAE were disorientation and the impression of hearing sounds. Sadovnik said that a device capable of causing Havana Syndrome symptoms could be relatively portable. “It’s quite conceivable that you can hide it in a car, or in a van but it would not work over a long distance,” he said. “You can do it through a wall, say, if you are in the next room in a hotel.”
Acoustic and Microwave Electromagnetic Weapon technology
Low frequency electromagnetic waves, also known as acoustic waves, have been commonly used for decades in functions such as ultrasound machines. However, acoustic waves can also cause internal organs of humans to vibrate. The result can be nausea, diarrhea, earache, and mental confusion. The discomfort increases as one gets closer to the source. This type of radio frequency weapon is commonly used by the PSYOPs community: loudspeakers. These speakers, mounted on a truck, broadcast messages in an attempt to persuade or demoralize the potentially threatening population.
Shorter wavelength electromagnetic radiation produces different effects. A common example is microwave radiation, which in a microwave oven can be used to heat up foods and liquids. When directed at humans, a microwave weapon causes atoms to vibrate, which in turn generates heat. At 200 yards away, body temperature increases from the normal 98.6° F to 107° F. At closer range, the temperature increase can be even higher, and is lethal. Microwave electromagnetic weapons can also stun a victim. This is the result of the stimulation of peripheral nerves. The simultaneous activity of many nerves overwhelms the capacity of the brain to process the incoming information, and can induce unconsciousness.
Animal studies have demonstrated the lethal nature of electromagnetic radiation. In the studies, wavelengths ranging from 60 centimeters destroyed the lung cells of mice and ground hogs. Wavelengths less than two meters also destroyed brain cells. Secret research conducted in the United States following World War II demonstrated that electronic stimulation of different regions of the brain of test subjects could produce extreme emotions of rage, lust, and fatigue. Another research program, dubbed “Operation Knockout,” operated at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal, Canada, with funding from the Central Intelligence Agency. The study’s director, Dr. Ewen Cameron, discovered that electroshock treatments caused amnesia. Memories could be erased, and the subjects reprogrammed. Once these “psychic driving” experiments became public, Cameron-then a pre-eminent psychiatrist, endured harsh public and professional criticism.
The National Academies report links high-power microwaves to impacts on people through the Frey effect. The human head acts as a receiving antenna for microwaves in the low gigahertz frequency range. Pulses of microwaves in these frequencies can cause people to hear sounds, which is one of the symptoms reported by the affected U.S. personnel. Other symptoms Havana syndrome sufferers have reported include headaches, nausea, hearing loss, lightheadedness and cognitive issues.
The biochemical effect of microwave exposure is dependent on the distance from the source, as electromagnetic fields become much weaker as the distance from the source increases. Experiments with very low frequency electromagnetic radiation have demonstrated that the radiation can induce the brain to release chemicals that induce slumber, or to release a chemical called histamine. In human volunteers, the histamine release produces flu-like symptoms, which dissipate when the radiation stops.
The report notes that electronic devices were not disrupted during the attacks, suggesting that the power levels needed for the Frey effect are lower than would be required for an attack on electronics. RF Directed Energy Weapons, either narrowband high-power microwave (HPM) or ultra wideband (UWB) uses high intensity concentrated electromagnetic radiation (CW, Pulsed or Impulsive high voltage) to irradiate the target at a distance that gets coupled into its electronic equipment and disrupts its components, circuitry, and switches. Unlike Laser DEW, HPM DEW is in fact ‘SMART’ as it sneaks in and affects the target system through its most vulnerable points.
This would be consistent with a high-power microwave weapon located at some distance from the targets. Power decreases dramatically with distance through the inverse square law, which means one of these devices could produce a power level at the target that would be too low to affect electronics but that could induce the Frey effect.
In the 1960s, the U. S. Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) studied the health and psychological effects of low energy microwaves for weapons applications. The ability of microwaves to damage the heart, create leaks in blood vessels in the brain, and to produce hallucinations were demonstrated.
Another RF weapon that was ready for use back in 1978 was developed under the guise of Operation PIQUE. Developed by the CIA, the plan was to bounce high powered radio signals off the ionosphere to affect the mental functions of people in selected areas, including Eastern European nuclear installations.
A US company had made the prototype of such a weapon for the marine corps in 2004. The weapon, codenamed Medusa, was intended to be small enough to fit in a car, and cause a “temporarily incapacitating effect” but “with a low probability of fatality or permanent injury”. Scientists with knowledge of the project said that ethical considerations preventing human experimentation contributed to the project being shelved – but they said such consideration had not hindered US adversaries, including Russia, and possibly China.
The microwave weapon project for the US Marine Corps, first reported in Wired, was first developed by a company called WaveBand Corporation. WaveBand was given $100,000 for the prototype, which according to the specifications of the contract would “be portable, require low power, have a controllable radius of coverage, be able to switch from crowd to individual coverage, cause a temporarily incapacitating effect, have a low probability of fatality or permanent injury, cause no damage to property, and have a low probability of affecting friendly personnel”.
A device called the Pulse Wave Myotron is commercially available. The Myotron emits rapid pulses of electromagnetic radiation. The pulses incapacitate the movement of voluntary muscles by overriding the electrical pulse that normally flows from nerve to nerve within the muscles. Involuntary muscles, such as the heart and muscles that operate the lungs, are unaffected. Thus, a victim is rendered incapable of movement or speech. The effect lasts until the muscles can repolarize; approximately 30 minutes.
US Patent 6506148 B2 Confirms Human Nervous System Manipulation Through Your Computer & TV
Our nervous system basically controls everything in our body, including the brain. It’s a network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body. Research has also shown that simple cell phone transmissions can affect a person’s brainwaves quite significantly, which in turn leads to effects on their behaviour as well. There is a reason why airplanes and hospitals ban the use of cell phones, it’s because their electromagnetic transmissions interfere with critical electrical devices. The brain is no different, it’s a bioelectric organ that’s extremely complex and generates electric fields. Scientists can actually control brain function with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique that uses powerful pulses of electromagnetic radiation beamed into a person’s brain to jam or excite particular brain circuits.
“Physiological effects have been observed in a human subject in response to stimulation of the skin with weak electromagnetic fields that are pulsed with certain frequencies near ½ Hz or 2.4 Hz, such as to excite a sensory resonance. Many computer monitors and TV tubes, when displaying pulsed images, emit pulsed electromagnetic fields of sufficient amplitudes to cause such excitation.
It is therefore possible to manipulate the nervous system of a subject by pulsing images displayed on a nearby computer monitor or TV set. For the latter, the image pulsing may be imbedded in the program material, or it may be overlaid by modulating a video stream, either as an RF signal or as a video signal. The image displayed on a computer monitor may be pulsed effectively by a simple computer program. For certain monitors, pulsed electromagnetic fields capable of exciting sensory resonances in nearby subjects may be generated even as the displayed images are pulsed with subliminal intensity.”
The concerning thing about this, as the patent application explains, is that even a very weak pulse can have adverse affects on the human nervous system. He then goes on to describe that pulse variability and strength can be controlled through software, and explains how, with regards to a computer monitor, DVDs, video tapes and more, and also how it can be remotely controlled from another location.
Perhaps the most concerning part is this, “Certain monitors can emit electromagnetic field pulses that excite a sensory resonance in a nearby subject, through image pulses that are so weak as to be subliminal. This is unfortunate since it opens a way for mischievous application of the invention, whereby people are exposed unknowingly to manipulation of their nervous systems for someone else’s purposes. Such application would be unethical and is of course not advocated. It is mentioned here in order to alert the public to the possibility of covert abuse that may occur while being online, or while watching TV, a video, or a DVD.”
Active Denial System: Pain Ray
The Active Denial System is an advanced, long-range non-lethal, directed energy, counter-personnel capability that projects a man-sized (1.5 m) beam of millimeter waves (not microwaves) at a range up to 1,000 meters. It will have the same compelling non-lethal effect on all human targets, regardless of size, age and gender.
The Active Denial System will support a full spectrum of operations ranging from non-lethal methods of crowd control, crowd dispersal, convoy and patrol protection, checkpoint security, perimeter security, area denial, and port protection, as well as other defensive and offensive operations from both fixed-site or mobile platforms.
The Active Denial System is needed because it’s the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel system with an extended range greater than currently fielded non-lethal weapons. Most counter-personnel non-lethal weapons use kinetic energy (rubber rounds, bean bags, etc.).
A kinetic-based system has a higher risk of human injury, and its effectiveness varies in relation to the size, age and gender of the target. The Active Denial System, however, is consistently effective regardless of size, age and gender and has a range greater than small-arms range. The Active Denial System will provide military personnel with a non-lethal weapon that has the same effect on all human targets.
Acoustic electromagnetic weapon
A more potent RF weapon currently under development is the high powered very low frequency (VLF) modulator. Working in the 20-35 KHz spectrum, the frequency emits from a 1-2 meter antenna dish to form into a type of acoustic bullet. The weapon is especially convenient because the power level is easily adjustable. At its low setting, the acoustic bullet causes physical discomfort — enough to deter most approaching threats. Incrementally increasing the power nets an effect of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains. The highest settings can cause a person’s bones to resonate, which is very painful, as it can ultimately cause the bones to literally explode internally.
Aimed at the head, the resonating skull bones have caused people to hear “voices.” Researched by the Russian military more extensively than by the U.S., the Russians actually offered the use of such a weapon to the FBI in the Branch Davidian standoff to make them think that “God” was talking to them. Concerned with the unpredictability of what the voices might actually say to the followers, the FBI declined the offer.
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