Electromagnetic Weapons

Frank Morales

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 March 1,
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 5 issue of the Marine Corps Times,
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” (i.e., “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.” 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” (2,250′) 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.” 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.” Finally, while “the Defense
Department has spent nearly $40 million over ten years to develop the
technology…budget predictions from last year…show 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

It 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 its 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.” According to the
Air Force, the projected energy “beam” travels “at the speed of light” and
penetrates “one-sixty- fourth 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 its Directed Energy Directorate at
Kirtland, the other from its Human Effectiveness Directorate, located at
Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. The learned team leaders, Lt. Colonel 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.” Recently, the public affairs office
of the Airborne Laser System Program Office, located at Kirtland, 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.” Meanwhile, the Space Vehicles
Directorate- Air Force Research Laboratory “develops technologies to support
evolving warfighter requirements to control and exploit space.”

This past
November, Kirtland 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.

system is currently being tested in field conditions. “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 this summer, officials have begun
examining the technology for use on a vehicle-mounted version. Future versions
might also be used onboard planes and ships.”

Colonel George
Fenton, director of the U.S. 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, Massachusetts, near Boston.”

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.” Not even
slightly. After all, notes the Times, they are only “intended to
influence motivational behavior.” According to freelance 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.”

farfetched? Back in 1986, Marine Corps Captain Paul E. Tyler, author of an
influential study entitled, “The Electromagnetic Spectrum in Low-Intensity
Conflict” 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 18th 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)
electro-anesthesia behavior modification in animals, altered
electroencephalograms in animals and humans, altered brain morphology in
animals, altered firing of neuronal cells.”                               Z