USMC Ray Gun

By Frank Morales

"The Marine Corps is on the verge of unveiling perhaps the biggest
breakthrough in weapons technology since the atomic bomb: a
nonlethal weapon that fires directed energy at human targets."

"I have nothing to hide. This is a good news story. Our American
public needs to understand that we have done our homework." - Col.
George Fenton, Director, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate,
Department of Defense

Marine Corps Times, March 5, 2001 (1)

In a neatly calculated "unveiling" of weapons designed for social
control, for use against civilians and the suppression of dissent,
the Pentagon has gone "transparent" with the latest in electronic
weapons technology which targets people. At a selective press
briefing for congressional and military leaders this past March
1st, Pentagon officials stated they were "developing a new
non-lethal weapon which uses electromagnetic energy to cause a
burning sensation on the skin…" (Reuters, 3/1/01) The "biggest
breakthrough in weapons technology since the atomic bomb" is none
other than the so-called "Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System" or
VMADS. According to the March 5th issue of the Marine Corps Times,
(cited above) in an article entitled, "The People Zapper: This new
secret weapon doesn't kill, but it sure does burn", the "VMADS
system is the first non-lethal, directed energy weapon designed
specifically for use against humans." The weapon "focuses energy
into a beam of micromillimeter waves designed to stop an individual
in his tracks." Powered by electricity, it would ultimately "be
powered by the modified Humvee on which it would be mounted."

According to the Marine Corps Times report, the projected energy
"which falls near microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum,
causes the moisture in a person's skin to heat up rapidly, creating
a burning sensation, similar to a hot light bulb pressed against
one's flesh." The microwaves, "whose exact length, frequency and
amplitude are classified, cause water molecules in the skin cells
to vibrate." Presumably, "when used as directed - that is, briefly
- the weapon causes no long-term problems". Meanwhile, "the amount
of time the weapon must be trained on an individual to cause
permanent damage or death is classified." Studies of long-term
effects of "the VMADS system" have been completed, according to the
report, but "the findings have not been released publicly." It
should be noted that the Joint Chiefs of Staff major policy
directive in the area of non-lethal weapons, DoD Directive 3000.3,
which is currently under revision, calls for these weapons to have
a built-in "rheostatic" (ie. "tunable") capability.

The Marine report states that, "the need for a nonlethal means for
stopping an aggressor is a direct response to today's world of
unknown enemies…where small numbers of troops find themselves
facing off against large crowds of civilians." And while "weapons
that fire lasers, electricity and sound waves have been in
development for years", "not since the advent of gun-powder and the
splitting of the atom have armies seen such a leap in technology."
The range of the electromagnetic weapon "remains classified" but
project officials "expect it will exceed 750 meters" (2250')
allowing the Marines to "engage a crowd from afar, directing
two-second bursts of energy without risk of being overcome by the
mob." The "mob", the target of the directed beam, cooking in 130
degree heat, "would immediately experience intense pain, causing
confusion and driving the crowd to disperse." And while "the
intention is not to burn the skin", "those hit by the beam begin to
feel intense heat" during "potential applications" which include
"urban operations." And finally, while "the Defense Department has
spent nearly $40 million over ten years to develop the
technology...budget predictions from last another $26
million could be needed for development over the next five years."
The primary contractor for the current VMADS $16 million project is
Raytheon Missile Systems.

Deeper Unveiling Turns out that while the Marines expect to be
microwaving people, it was the Air Force that developed the
"technology" in the first place. On February 22, 2001 the United
States Air Force Research Laboratory, located at Kirtland Air Force
Base, New Mexico, issued it's own news release announcing that "a
breakthrough technology designed to project an energy beam that
drives away adversaries without injuring them, is now undergoing
advanced testing." (2) According to the Air Force, the projected
energy "beam" travels "at the speed of light" and penetrates "1/64
of a inch into the skin", rapidly heating up the skin's surface,
causing the "subject", within seconds, to "feel pain that stops
when the transmitter is shut off or when the subject moves out of
the beam." According to the news release, the weapon was developed
by two Air Force Research Laboratory teams: one from it's Directed
Energy Directorate at Kirtland, the other from it's Human
Effectiveness Directorate, located at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas.
The learned team leaders, Lt. Col.Chuck Beason and Dr. Kirk Hackett
noted, in reference to the new EM weapon, that "the effect exploits
a natural defense mechanism - pain - that has evolved to protect
the human body from damage." The Air Force Research Laboratory -
Directed Energy Directorate, in addition to developing "high
powered electromagnetic weapons and countermeasures" also develops
"moderate and high power laser devices". (3) In fact, recently
(2/212/01), the public affairs office of the Airborne Laser System
Program Office, located at Kirtland, AFB, announced that "Lockheed
Martin Space Systems will open an $8 million, 16,000 square-foot
optical test center…designed to analyze the beam guidance system
for the U.S. Air Force's Airborne Laser, the world's first combat
aircraft armed with a directed energy weapon." (4) Meanwhile, the
Space Vehicles Directorate - Air Force Research Laboratory,
"develops technologies to support evolving warfighter requirements
to control and exploit space." (5) This past November, Kirtland AFB
was the sight of the 3rd Annual Directed Energy Symposium entitled,
Directed Energy for the 21st Century, presented by the Directed
Energy Professional Association, in cooperation with the Office of
the Secretary of Defense. (6)

The VMADS system is currently being tested in field conditions by
the Air Force at Kirtland, AFB. At the New Mexico site, "they are
using a transmitter that sends a narrow beam of energy to a test
subject hundreds of yards away." It is reassuring to note that "all
testing is being conducted with strict observance of the
procedures, laws and regulations governing animal and human
experimentation". In addition, "the tests have been reviewed and
approved by the Air Force Surgeon General's Office and are
conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Human
Effectiveness Directorate." Finally, "although testing is expected
to continue in this summer (2001), officials have begun examining
the technology for use on a vehicle-mounted version. Future
versions might also be used onboard planes and ships." (7)

Col. George Fenton, director of the US Marine operated NLW program
firmly believes in the safety of this "revolutionary force
protection technology." He recently stated that "humans have been
exposed more than 6,000 times in testing, all inside the laboratory
(and that) no long term effects have been detected." Given that
track record, Fenton believes that "the technology could move into
the acquisition phase of making a prototype as soon as this summer
(2001), when the project would be taken over by the Air Force's
Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., near
Boston." (8)

Finally, on-cue the New York Times joined in on the "unveiling",
heralding "what some military officials hope will become the rubber
bullet of the 21st century: a weapon that uses electromagnetic
waves to disperse crowds without killing, maiming or, military
officials say, even injuring anyone slightly." (9) Not even
slightly! After all, notes the Times, they are only "intended to
influence motivational behavior." According to free lance
writer/researcher David Guyatt, "less than lethal anti-personnel
weapons, especially some classes of EM weapons that are viewed as
having a capability to remotely modify behavior or attack higher
functions, are seen in some influential quarters as being the ideal
remedy for future domestic disturbances...", wherein, the forces of
repression will target the opposition, "armed with innovative
technological weapons that do not necessarily kill but which render
disenfranchised segments of society physically inactive,
emotionally stupefied and incapable of meaningful thought…" (10)

Sound farfetched? Back in 1986, Marine Corps Captain Paul E. Tyler,
author of an influential study entitled, "The Electromagnetic
Spectrum in Low-Intensity Conflict" (11) was already making the
point that "the potential applications of artificial
electromagnetic fields are wide ranging and can be used in many
military or quasi - military situations" including "crowd control".
At that time he pointed out that although scientists hadn't
identified electromagnetism for what it really was until the
eighteenth century, "the results of many studies that have been
published in the last few years indicate that specific biological
effects can be achieved by controlling the various parameters of
the electromagnetic (EM) field." And further, "many of the clinical
effects of electromagnetic radiation (have) been reported in the
literature to induce or enhance the following effects
(including)…electroanesthesia…behavior modification in animals,
altered electroencephalograms in animals and humans, altered brain
morphology in animals, altered firing of neuronal cells."

According to Capt.Tyler, "a 1982 Air Force review of biotechnology
had this to say: Currently available data allow the projection that
specially generated radio frequency radiation (RFR) fields may pose
powerful and revolutionary antipersonnel military threats.
Electroshock therapy indicates the ability of induced electric
current to completely interrupt mental functioning for short
periods of time, to obtain cognition for longer periods and to
restructure emotional response over prolonged intervals." Further,
"experience with electroshock therapy, RFR experiments and the
increasing understanding of the brain as an electrically mediated
organ suggested the serious probability that impressed
electromagnetic fields can be disruptive to purposeful behavior and
may be capable of directing and or interrogating such behavior",
while "the passage of approximately 100 milliamperes through the
myocardium can lead to cardiac standstill and death, again pointing
to a speed-of-light weapons effect."

     1.. Marine Corps Times, "The People Zapper: This new secret weapon 
doesn't kill, but it sure does burn", C. Mark Brinkley, March 5, 2001, 
     2.. United States Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory, News 
Release, Office of Public Affairs, "New Technology Drives Away Adversaries", 
February 22, 2001.
     c.. Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, 
Directorate descriptions,
     d.. United States Air Force, Airborne Laser System Program Office, 
Office of Public Affairs, "Airborne Laser Optical Facility Opens", February 
21, 2001.
     e.. Air Force Research Laboratory, Directorate descriptions (above)
     f.. Directed Energy for the 21st Century, 3rd Annual Directed Energy 
Symposium, Preliminary Program and Registration, Kirtland Air Force Base, 
White Sands Missile Range, 30 October - 3 November 2000.
     g.. Air Force Research Laboratory, "New technology Drives Away 
Adversaries" 2/22/01 (above)
     h.. Marine Corps Times, 3/5/01 (above)
     i.. New York Times, "Pentagon Unveils Plans for a New Crowd-Dispersal 
Weapon", James Dao, March 2, 2001.
     j.. David G. Guyatt, "Some Aspects of Antipersonnel Electromagnetic 
Weapons", February 1996.
     k.. Capt. Paul E. Tyler, MC, USN, "The Electromagnetic Spectrum in 
Low-Intensity Conflict", in, LtCol. David J. Dean, USAF, Editor, 
Low-Intensity Conflict and Modern Technology, Air University Press, Alabama, 
June 1986.