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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Electromagnetic Bomb

source: www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil

The Electromagnetic Bomb - a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction
Carlo Kopp Defence Analyst
Melbourne, Australia

High Power Electromagnetic Pulse generation techniques and High Power Microwave technology have matured to the point where practical E-bombs (Electromagnetic bombs) are becoming technically feasible, with new applications in both Strategic and Tactical Information Warfare. The development of conventional E-bomb devices allows their use in non-nuclear confrontations. This paper discusses aspects of the technology base, weapon delivery techniques and proposes a doctrinal foundation for the use of such devices in warhead and bomb applications.

...read complete article here....

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NONLETHAL WEAPONS
Technologies, Legalities, and Potential Policies
Maj Joseph W. Cook, III, Maj David P. Fiely, Maj Maura T. McGowan http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/mcgowan.html

Electromagnetic Weapons

Nonlethal electromagnetic weapons span the spectrum from simple to exotic. Many can be employed (or can have collateral effects) against both personnel and equipment. Blinding and shocking effects are the most common nonlethal results of the use of this class of weapons. We will now look at potential nonlethal applications of certain technologies for which there are presently no specific prohibitions but which could certainly have LOAC implications.

Electrified Baton, Stun Gun, Taser. These weapons deliver immobilizing, lowenergy pulsed shocks either at close range (baton and stun gun) or at long range (taser). They are used by police in criminal enforcement. The taser has electric currents of high voltage and low amperage that cause the muscles of the body to contract forcefully.52 The individual experiences spasms.53 The contractions may fracture bones. If the individual collapses, he may suffer further injury.54 If an individual is repeatedly shocked, he may be rendered unconscious. The individual may suffer electrical burns that may be difficult to treat.55

Highintensity Light. These omnidirectional bombs or flares can flashblind personnel even in existing intense lighting situations. They can also degrade sensors and night vision devices.

Lasers. Lowenergy lasers can be directed or aimed at specific targets to blind personnel or sensors either temporarily or permanently. They can also be used to make a gun or other weapon too hot to hold. The most advanced blinding lasers oscillate between numerous colors to make goggles and other countermeasures ineffective.

One factor in the assessment of the legality of a weapon is discrimination. A weapon that injures the civilian population or civilian property along with military personnel and objects, without distinction, is considered indiscriminate and thus illegal. Electromagnetic weapons, and most specifically the laser, can "almost always be directed very precisely against specific targets."56

A second factor of assessment is "unnecessary suffering." Several electromagnetic weapons, such as the highintensity light and laser, may produce temporary or permanent blindness. These weapons have been the subject of much discussion. Sweden has been actively condemning the use of lasers as antipersonnel weapons on the grounds that they cause unnecessary suffering.

Several sophisticated types of military equipment, such as sensors and optics, are rendered useless when subjected to laser weapons. These pieces of military equipment are legitimate targets. Their destruction, however, may result in injury to personnel. Such injury would be incidental to the primary target of the weapon.57

The controversy surrounding lasers focuses on the legitimacy of deliberately blinding human beings. Exposing a pilot's eyes to a laser may result in the destruction of the entire plane.58 Intentionally blinding an attacking infantry unit would render them unable to fight. Some scholars, in particular experts from Switzerland and Sweden, argue that intentionally using a laser to permanently blind a combatant is a disproportionate injury to the gained military advantage.59 The essence of their argument is that the Declaration of St. Petersburg authorized the incapacitation of an opponent only for the duration of the conflict. "Although it is permitted to kill combatants under the law of war, and thus to put them permanently out of action, it is not permitted to use methods or means of warfare exclusively designed to injure soldiers with injuries lasting not only the duration of the conflict but for the rest of their lives."60 It is their position that intentional irreversible permanent blindness by a laser constitutes "unnecessary suffering."

The United States rejects this position. In a memorandum of law, it noted that there was no legal obligation to limit wounding so that the opponent would be temporarily disabled for the period of the hostilities and no longer.61 Additionally, it noted, "Blinding is no stranger to the battle field." The use of a number of conventional weapons could result in blindness.62 However, these conventional weapons are more likely to cause death. It is the United States' position that lasers do not cause unnecessary suffering but are more humane because the victim is likely to suffer less injury than that caused by conventional weapons.63

The injuries suffered as a result of electromagnetic weapons are typically less severe than those injuries resulting from conventional weapons. Although it is possible that a belligerent may be permanently injured or killed as a result of the use of these weapons, there is no evidence that the suffering experienced is greater then that experienced from conventional weapons.

Acoustical Weapons
Nonlethal acoustical weapons also range from the mundane to the extraordinary as described below.

High-intensity Sound. High-intensity sound sets the ear drum in motion. These vibrations cause the inner ear to initiate nerve impulses that the brain registers as sound.64 The inner ear regulates the spatial orientation of the body. If the ear is subjected to high-intensity sound, the individual may experience imbalance.65 Low-frequency, high-intensity sound may cause other organs to resonate, causing a number of physiological results, including death.66

The British use high-intensity sound as a means of riot control in Northern Ireland. The Curdler is a device that emits a high "shrieking noise at irregular intervals."67 The sound is emitted at levels lower than the pain threshold.

The assessment of high-intensity sound as a legal weapon must be reviewed in terms of "unnecessary suffering." If the acoustical weapon emits sounds below the pain threshold, then unnecessary suffering is not an issue. If the sound does inflict pain, the suffering must be balanced against military necessity. It may be lawful to use high-intensity sound against an attacking force, although some of the attackers may experience dis-orientation, pain, or even death. As noted earlier when discussing the legality of blinding soldiers, it is permissible to injure a combatant even with a wound that may incapacitate the soldier for a period exceeding the term of the hostilities. Combatants have been rendered deaf from conventional warfare, or have even been disoriented from the confusion of the battle. The use of high-intensity sound as a weapon to disorient, or to cause pain or death, does not constitute unnecessary suffering.

However, acoustical weapons run the risk of being an indiscriminate weapon. The release of highintensity sound would impose the same degree of damage on the noncombatant as the combatant. It may be used only in circumstances in which the damage to noncombatants is merely incidental in proportion to the necessity of the military objective.

Infrasound. This is a powerful ultralow frequency (ULF) sonic weapon that can penetrate buildings and vehicles and can be directional and tunable. As a weapon infrasound, lowfrequency sound entails the same concerns as highintensity sound. After being exposed to highintensity infrasound, a subject suffers from disorientation and reduced ability to perform simple sensorymotor tasks.68 At elevated levels, experimental animals cease breathing temporarily.69 The principles and findings regarding highintensity sound would apply to infrasound. The suffering would be no greater than that experienced by conventional weapons. The suffering must be proportionate to the military objectives. The sound must be applied so that damage to noncombatants is incidental in light of the military objective.

Unfortunately, large banks of speakers are required to provide directionality, and the power demands are enormous.70 Area denial is a very plausible mission for such a device as the level of pain or damage increases predictably as range decreases.

Sonic Bullets. These are packets of sonic energy that are propelled toward the target. The Russians apparently have a portable device that can propel a 10-Hertz (Hz) sonic packet the size of a baseball hundreds of yards. When employed against humans, the energy can be selected to result in nonlethal or lethal damage.71 The sonic bullet uses direct sonic energy. If the energy can be controlled so that it is used only against lawful combatants, the concerns surrounding acoustical weapons may be reduced or eliminated.

Deference Tones. These are sophisticated arrays that can project a voice or other sound to a particular location. The resulting sound can only be heard at that particular location.72 Deference tones, a means of projecting sound, would not directly cause injury upon the enemy. Its use must be in accordance with the constraints of the law of armed conflict. For example, if the tone is generating a sound such as an SOS signal, the enemy has an obligation to respond to that sound. If the SOS sound is used to lure the enemy to a place where they will be ambushed, such a use of the tone would be perfidious and therefore illegal.

Informational Weapons
Recently, a new class of nonlethal weapons has drawn considerable interest in defense circles as well as in international law. Two types of such weapons are discussed below.

Voice Synthesis. This is the ability to clone a person's voice and broadcast a synthesized message to a selected audience. The propaganda value of this technique in our highly mediadependent world would be enormous. We currently have the ability to control the broadcasts of foreign radio and television stations by using orbiting platforms packed with electronic gear.

In considering whether it is legal to clone a persons voice in order to gain a military advantage, it is important to determine whose voice is being cloned. In most cases, it would be realistic to expect that the voice cloned would be that of a political leader or a military officer. The cloned voice might give orders to the enemy combatant that might prove detrimental to the combatant. The combatant would most likely be under an obligation to follow these orders. That obligation, however, is owed to his own chain of command and is not under the law of armed conflict. Treacherous acts, those which abuse an obligation to be truthful under the law of armed conflict, are illegal. But if there is no obligation to be truthful under the law of armed conflict, then the misinformation amounts to a lawful ruse. Morris Greenspan, a prominent writer in the field of international law, notes that examples of legitimate ruses are "making use of the enemy's signals, bugle and trumpet calls, watchwords, and words of command."73 Giving orders by voice is analogous to giving orders by bugle calls or signals. Cloning a voice would not violate the law of armed conflict.

Computer Viruses. The ability to severely disrupt computer operations with viruses has already been demonstrated by amateur American hackers. A more sophisticated and professional effort might be that of being able to produce viruses that can be injected into enemy hardware at long range.

When planning to disrupt computer operations, it is necessary to distinguish whether the computers are military objectives. If they are civilian property or their loss would impact only the civilian population, then they are not legitimate targets. However, if the computers serve a dual use (for both the civilian population and the military population), they may be considered valid targets. The next step in the analysis calls for applying the rule of proportionality to determine if the military advantage outweighs the impact upon the civilian population.

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WEAPONS OF MASS PROTECTION: NONLETHALITY, INFORMATION WARFARE, AND AIRPOWER IN THE AGE OF CHAOS
Chris Morris, Janet Morris, Thomas Baines
http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/morris.html


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