Weapons: June 7, 2005


For several years now, commanders have been trying to get ADS (Active Defense System) technology sent to Iraq. But it never arrives. ADS is a microwave transmitter that is directed at a hostile crowd to scatter it. The microwave energy creates a burning sensation on the skin of its victims, causing them to want to leave the area, or at least distract them. ADS has a range of about 500 meters. ADS is carried on a hummer, along with a machine-gun (for those who are not put off by intense skin pain).  The system is called, Sheriff. And the latest version also includes a sniper detection system. 

A year ago, Sheriff was expected to show up this Summer. But the money for building the half dozen Sheriff systems was never found. Now the army and marines want 14 Sheriff vehicles (eight for the army, six for the marines.) Each will cost about $1.1 million.

ADS has been in development for over a decade, and the marines were ready to take delivery of some of the systems before September 11, 2001. But there were always delays. First there were demands to make sure ADS would not cause permanent damage, or kill people. The trouble with non-lethal weapons is that, under the right conditions, these devices, including tear gas, can cause serious injuries, or even kill people. There is no such thing as a non-lethal weapon, only less lethal weapons. This makes commanders reluctant to use these weapons, knowing that eventually people will die, and the troops will be lambasted for misusing non-lethal weapons.

ADS has been ready to go for years, but not enough people high up in the food chain were willing to sign off on it. That may still be the case.


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