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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."
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.
Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"
Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure that he planned to meet the families, a duty which he said "might be the toughest thing I have to do as president."
He was greeted by military staff at Dover Air Force Base after a short flight from Joint Base Andrews, but did not speak to reporters before entering his motorcade.
Flanked by military officials, Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan filed up a ramp leading onto a military transport aircraft, where a prayer was given to honor the memory of Scott Wirtz, a civilian Department of Defense employee from St. Louis.
Trump filed down the plank and saluted while six service members clad in fatigues and white gloves carried an American flag-draped casket carrying Wirtz to a waiting gray van.
The Dover base is a traditional hub for returning the remains of American troops abroad.
The United States believes the attack that killed the Americans was the work of Islamic State militants.
Trump announced last month that he planned to speedily withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has since said it does not need to go quickly as he tries to ensure safety of Kurdish allies in northern Syria who are at risk of attack from neighboring Turkey.
Trump told reporters on Saturday that his Syria policy has made progress but that some work remained in destroying Islamic State targets. He defended his plans for a withdrawal.
"It's moving along very well, but when I took over it was a total mess. But you do have to ask yourself, we're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point you want to bring our people back home," he said.
In addition to Wirtz, those who died during the Wednesday attack in Manbij, Syria, were Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, 35, identified as being from upstate New York, the Department of Defense said in a statement.
The Pentagon did not identify the fourth person killed, a contractor working for a private company. U.S. media identified her as Ghadir Taher, a 27-year-old employee of defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Leslie Adler)
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.