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The Marine Corps Wants To Put Freakin’ Lasers On Vehicles For Crowd Control
The Marine Corps is on the hunt for a vehicle-mounted laser system that can produce "sustainable and controllable plasma at range" for the purposes of crowd control, according to A U.S. government solicitation.
A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) solicitation details future needs for a Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser Systems (SCUPLS) that, when integrated into a small tactical vehicle like a Humvee or Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, can generate "a full spectrum of scalable non-lethal effects," including "flash bang effects, thermal ablation for pain, and delivery of intelligible voice commands at range."
This may sound tame, but it's not. The new solicitation builds on previous efforts the Marine Corps were able to achieve a variety of deeply uncomfortable, if non-lethal, effects, including "a sufficient level of thermal discomfort on human skin" at a range of up to 30 meters and a sonic component that delivers an acoustic at a sound level of a passing Formula 1 race car at full throttle.
The next iteration of the tech, according to the solicitation, should kick things up a notch.
The new STTR solicitation details system specifications including an effective flash bang and sonic measures and "scalable thermal ablative effects through common natural clothing (i.e., fabric, denim, leather, etc.)" at up to 100 meters.
In short: the Marine Corps wants a pulsed laser that can blind, disorient, and burn, all in the same package.
An artist's illustration of a high-energy laser weapon mounted on a U.S. Marine Corps HumveeRaytheon
The Corps has been expanding its arsenal of advanced non-lethal weapons in recent months, to include testing mortar rounds loaded up with flash-bang munitions and Taser rounds that can be fired from conventional firearms. But the prospect of a vehicle-mounted laser system represents a broader leap forward for directed energy weapons.
While the Army has been enjoying some new laser toys for more than a year, field-testing specially-modified Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles outfitted with a Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany as recently as May, those tests are part of the service's short-range air defense capabilities, focused on knocking enemy drones out of the sky rather than dealing out (non-lethal) damage to enemy combatants.
Now, the Pentagon is clearly gearing up to re-orient its laser capabilities for offensive purposes.
An August 2018 change to the DoD directive governing non-lethal weaponry shifted ownership to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, part of the broader reorganization of the Pentagon's tech and acquisition offices "to emphasize quantum science, artificial intelligence, and directed energy," as Defense News noted in July, a portfolio that includes laser systems.
So what does that mean for war fighters downrange? Anticipate some fun new toys — to be used responsibly, of course.
"[Non-lethal weapons] are developed and used with the intent to minimize the probability of producing fatalities, significant or permanent injuries, or undesired damage to materiel," the DoD directive on NLWs notes, "but do not, and are not intended to, eliminate risk of those actions entirely."
The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.
US and Turkey agree on temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from northeast Syria
The United States and Turkey have agreed to a temporary cease fire to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a safe zone that Turkey is establishing along its border with Syria, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday.
They started the US war against ISIS. Now they have an important message for Trump on abandoning the Kurds
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Trump's recent decisions in northern Syria were ill-advised, strategically unsound, and morally shameful. In rapidly withdrawing U.S. presence and allowing a Turk offensive into Syria, we have left the Syrian Kurds behind, created a power vacuum for our adversaries to fill, and set the stage for the resurgence of ISIS.
After preliminary fitness test scores leaked in September, many have voiced concerns about how women would fare in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
The scores — which accounted for 11 of the 63 battalions that the ACFT was tested on last year — showed an overall failure rate of 84% for women, and a 70% pass rate for men.
But Army leaders aren't concerned about this in the slightest.
More than 74 years after Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, the Marine Corps has announced that one of men in the most famous picture of World War II had been misidentified.