from Popular Science
All evidence points to this device
Earlier this week, an NPR report uncovered an exchange from June 1, in which a military police officer wanted to know if the D.C. National Guard owned a pain-inducing heat weapon for potentially using on protesters. He also asked about a powerful auditory communication system that’s been compared to the “voice of God.”
The weapon, the Active Denial System (ADS), is a real thing, as is the sound system, which is called a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
In documents published by NPR, a member of the National Guard recounted the email thread in which the question was asked, and stated: “I responded that the DC National Guard was not in possession of either an LRAD or an ADS.”
The fact that a controversial weapon was floated as a possible means of dealing with what the Washington Post described as “peaceful protesters” has sparked outrage, with the ACLU writing on Twitter: “REMINDER: Our government shouldn’t be conspiring to use heat rays against us for exercising our constitutional rights.”
The ADS referenced in this conversation comes from the US military, and it’s not new. To understand why such non-lethal science-fiction-type machines were developed, it helps to wind back the clock to the 1990s, says Mark Cancian, a senior advisor for the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“This family of capabilities grew out of the DOD’s experience in the 1990s in Bosnia and Somalia,” Cancian says. “In both instances, you have [the] military dealing with civilians, who could be violent, but weren’t really combatants.” The intention was to create new kinds of tools that were somewhere between a rifle, and close-range crowd-control gear, like shields and batons.
Cancian has experience in this field. He served in the Marines on active duty for 11 years, and also directed the Land Forces Division (a part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense) from 1995 to 2006. His office reviewed the budget and programs of an entity formerly called the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. Today, it’s called the Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office.
Because of this experience in Bosnia and Somalia, he says, the Department of Defense “created this non-lethal directorate to explore a whole bunch of technologies.”