Welcome to the Free World

by Frank Morales

Covert Action Quarterly, April-June 2001



The Army believes that "information is the key to developing plans for appropriate responses to civil disturbances." With it "units can dominate a civil disturbance using non-lethal munitions." Domination being the goal, CALL (Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas) stresses that "non-lethal weapons and munitions should always be accompanied with lethal munitions and the capability to employ them."

The authors note that "at the time of the publication of this newsletter, only grenadiers in rifle platoons were equipped with the 'sponge' M203 rounds. All other soldiers carried the same equipment and ammunition they would use in a combat situation."

The report goes on to provide various pointers on suppressing civil unrest e.g., "detain personnel who are leading the civil disturbance."

And finally, although the TTPs are meant to address possible international "contingencies," "Leader training on basic disturbance control procedures" is derived from the 1935 U.S. Army Field Manual 19-15, Civil Disturbances, written specifically for domestic application.

In July 1996 the Department of Defense (DoD) published Directive 3000.3, "Policy for Non-Lethal Weapons," that "establishes DoD policies and assigns responsibilities for the development and employment of nonlethal weapons."

The directive designates the Marine Corps Commandant as "executive agent" for the non-lethal weapons program-an odd choice given the Marines' penchant for extreme violence.

While the Joint Chiefs would "promulgate joint doctrine," Directive 3000.3 assigns primary "policy oversight for the development and employment of non-lethal weapons" to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. The post is occupied by civilian DoD employee Robert J. Newberry, proposed by Bush as a successor to Clinton appointee Brian E. Sheridan.

The DoD defines non-lethal technology as "weapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to incapacitate personnel or materiel [equipment and supplies]...," utilizing "means other than gross physical destruction to prevent the target from functioning." This frees troops to "take military action in situations where use of lethal force is not the preferred option."

By January 1997, moving to implement "Public Law 104-106, Section 219, Non-lethal Weapons Study," the DoD went ahead to officially designate the Marine Corps as the Lead agency in a joint program to develop and field non-lethal weapons. Consequently, the Joint Directorate for Non-Lethal Weapons (JDNLW), based at Quantico, Virginia, was born, set up as the "action office" for the day-to day activities of the joint (meaning all services) NLW program.

A June 23, 1999, "Memorandum of Agreement between the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Special Operations Command" formalized bureaucratic relationships in the NLWs program. The Directorate, with a staff of about 20, oversees a budget of $24 million. About' $11 million of this amount is for Army and Marine "procurement" of NLWs. The annual budget is expected to increase to $28 million by 2005.


On the congressional front, during January 1999 the Directorate "participated in a static display to the Senate Armed Services Committee," providing "the Directorate with a great opportunity to showcase the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program to Senate members and professional staffers."

The chief of the NLW Directorate at the time, Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak, a Leading theorist in the area of urban warfare and "military operations in urban terrain," testified before the Senate Committee, displaying various "static" weaponry before the "professional staffers" including "modular crowd control munition" and the "40 mm Crowd Dispersal Cartridge."

The Directorate's brief is to develop and field NLWs. It is also "tasked" with providing leadership in joint service training, including tactics, communications, crowd dynamics, weapons and munitions, rules of engagement, and the development of rationalizing doctrine and policy.

In addition the Directorate, allegedly-given the proclivities of the separate services to shield their work on NLWs from public view, including the Directorate-sponsors all experimentation in NLWs including NLW "advanced concept technology demonstrations" (ACTD) as part of "military operations in urban terrain" (MOUT) training.

The Directorate has initiated an "insight" program that will supply it with some information on highly classified single service (i.e., not "joint") strategic level non-lethal weapons. In terms of future experimentation, the Directorate is looking at canister-launched area denial systems, non-lethal Claymore mines (command-detonated explosive systems that project hundreds of small hard-rubber bails), and a non-lethal vehicle trap, among others.

For the mid-term to 2004, it is exploring bounding non-lethal munitions, weapons that leap into the air before firing their pellets, dye, malodorants, or other non-lethal payload. And since 1999 the Directorate has been an active member of the Defense Joint Radio Frequency Technical Integration Group, looking at high-power radio frequency and microwave applications...

Marine Corps Commandant General James L. Jones said this and other efforts on the part of the Directorate are designed "to leverage 215t Century technology to enable our war-fighting Commanders in Chief to capitalize on a full-spectrum non-lethal capability."...

An influential 1998 research report Non-Lethal Weaponry: A Framework for Future Integration,' authored by Air Force Major Mark R. Thomas, provides commentary and an extensive bibLiography on NLWs, including a "cross section of non-lethal technologies and whether the of the technology is anti-materiel (AM) or anti-personnel (AP) in nature"

Some distinction, as if "biodeteriorative microbes," which "degrades road and bridge surfaces, turns aviation fuel to jelly," and "eats rubber off vehicle wheels" is completely harmless to persons.

Thomas notes that "the concept of non-Lethality, accompanied by the development and employment of non-lethal weapons (NLWs), has been a material element of civilian Law enforcement for many years," while "focused consideration of non-Lethality and related weaponry by the DoD as an application of the military instrument of power (IOP) is a relatively new yet growing phenomenon."

He adds that "a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of an unarmed burglary suspect Led to the formation of a 'Less than Lethal' development program within the Department of Justice's (DoJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ). By 1993, the NIJ had expanded its mission to include the examination and transfer of existing and emerging technologies within the defense and intelligence establishments under an initiative known as the Technology Assessment Program (TAP)."

TAP involves grants and cooperative/interagency agreements to research NLWs. According to Thomas, "in 1994 the DoD and the DoJ formalized their desire to cooperatively pursue non-lethal weaponry and have developed several prototypes to help Law enforcement and military personnel close the wide and dangerous gap that exists in the range of tools available to them.""

Commenting on the result of this DoD/DoJ cooperation, Thomas concludes that the Secretary of Defense should "partner with the Attorney General to redraw the increasingly blurred Lines between military operations and domestic Law enforcement in accordance with applicable statutes."

He notes: "Civilian leaders may be more inclined to address future domestic crisis situations using military forces... when a broadened military mindset toward conflict instinctively includes non-lethality and NLWs are the ) mainstay of a soldier's individual equipment issue." And inevitably, "as non-lethal confrontation becomes second nature to U.S. fighting forces, one of the few remaining pragmatic objections to their use in domestic scenarios (i.e., the likelihood of lethal military force being exercised against the citizenry) will be radically diminished. This is an ominous prospect to say the Least."

Ominous indeed. From Seattle to Philadelphia, from D.C. to Prague, and most recently Davos, Switzerland, "non-lethal confrontation" has become second nature to U.S. fighting forces and those inspired and trained by U.S. affiliates.


On the eve of massive protests surrounding the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from January 25-31, 2001, the U.S. State Department issued a public "travel advisory".

"Several groups have publicly stated their intention to disrupt the Forum by means of protest actions both in Davos and in the surrounding area. As in previous meetings... there is potential that some demonstrations may become disorderly and violent."'

Although advising against "travel to Davos during this period," the Department did note that Swiss authorities were, in the interests of corporate security, "taking appropriate steps to ensure the security of visitors."

Indeed they did. Against the declarations of the Swiss Supreme Court, the Swiss Financial Establishment created the "united police forces of Switzerland" with assistance from their "colleagues from Australia, Seattle and Prague."' Armed with tear gas guns and tanks, water cannons, rubber bullets and truncheons, the "security forces" were able to meet the "threat" of violence and disorder, a threat beat into the heads of the public by the Likes of the U.S. State Department.

In fact, the recent phase of criminalizing protest and demonizing protesters as violent terrorists' goes back to the days immediately following the protests against the Seattle WTO round and Last year's Washington, D.C. world Bank/IMF meeting.

At that time, world Bank president James Wolfensohn, making the global circuit preaching the gospel of looming left-wing violence, stated at The Hague, Netherlands, immediately prior to demonstrations there, that he was "afraid for Prague" given that "militant groups in the U.S." were "already training for Prague," groups who "teach how to make Molotov cocktails and how to use other violent tactics."

It is against this background that the stepped-up use of so-called non-lethal weapons is taking place. These weapons, commodities in a growing world market, facilitate the more effective targeting of overwhelmingly non-violent global movements. In this manner an increasingly militarized and coordinated global police apparatus is moving to extend its sway, its war-making, to those civilian sectors of the world in opposition to the global corporate agenda.

Under the guise of undeclared "operations other than war"-and other Pentagonisms-"non-Lethal weapons" allow for more repression and torture of non-combatant populations, particularly those opposed to this agenda.

Essentially, as this new phase in the global class war emerges and grows, along with the internationalization of U.S.-initiated and exported methodologies of "civil disturbance suppression," the utilization of "non-Lethal weapons" will increase, both here and around the world. An organized worldwide anti-war movement must neutralize this real threat to global humanity, a threat spearheaded by U.S. militarism and its myriad private and academic appendages.

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