Non-lethal weapons provide a military commander with a means of applying
force that is something less than a total destruction of the opponent and may be
less harmful to the environment. Non-lethal weapons are used to:
- Control crowds
- Incapacitate Personnel
- Deny an Area to Personnel
- Deny an Area to Vehicles
- Disable or Neutralize Vehicles, Aircraft, Vessels or Facilities
- Seize Personnel
- Clear Facilities of Personnel
Conventional weapons and overwhelming force can be used for all of these
purposes, but sometimes only at the cost of significant collateral damage,
serious injuries and deaths. Non-lethal weapons can reduce these risks,
contributing to a military resolution to the conflict that will not be at odds
with the political resolution of the conflict.
"Non-lethal" is not the same as harmless, and
"non-lethal" doesn't always mean non-lethal. "Non-lethal really
means "lethal less often than a lot of other things."
- Lethal heart arrythmias have followed the standard application of an
electrical "stun gun."
- Lethal asthma attacks have followed the use of CS gas for riot control.
- Both rubber and plastic bullets have resulted in deaths from skull
fractures or closed head injuries, and permanent blindness for those struck
in the eye.
- Individuals dazzled by bright lights or lasers may be incapable of safely
navigating an aircraft or vehicle, resulting in death.
As a medical provider in military settings, it may prove useful to become
familiar with the various non-lethal weapons and the injuries they can cause.
These weapons include:
Bean Bag projectiles
No. 23FS-Rubber Fin Stabilized
CS Gas (Tear Gas)
CN Gas (Mace)
High Intensity Light
For more information, read:
More Information on Operational Safety
From Operational Medicine 2001:
Health Care in Military Settings
CAPT Michael John Hughey, MC, USNR
January 1, 2001
Bureau of Medicine and
Department of the Navy,
2300 E Street NW,
United States Special Operations Command,
7701 Tampa Point Blvd.,
MacDill AFB, Florida,
Textbooks and Manuals
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