An exploration of equipping a future force warrior small combat unit with non-lethal weapons
Wittwer, Larry N.
Willis, John B.
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The U.S. military has an increasing requirement to prepare for and conduct urban operations (UO). This UO requirement spreads across the spectrum of conflict, from high intensity combat to peacekeeping and humanitarian missions (Stability and Support Operations--SASO), often simultaneously. Regardless of which portion(s) of the warfare spectrum U.S. forces are involved in, urban engagements are inevitable and present major challenges. Superior standoff weapons ranges and combined arms tactics are quickly negated in the confined terrain of a complex and usually unfamiliar urban environment. Often considerably more challenging is the ability to differentiate the enemy from noncombatants--endangering our Soldiers and their mission. Conventional forces, armed only with traditional weapons, normally have two options: the threat of a violent response (passive) or the use of deadly force (active). These two extremes have virtually no middle ground. The reluctance of military and/or peacekeeping forces to employ deadly force on unconfirmed enemy targets creates a vulnerability. This vulnerability may be mitigated by equipping a small combat unit (SCU) with a viable alternative to deadly force-- non-lethal weapons (NLWs). Using an imperfect friend or foe identification modeling framework within an agent-based simulation (ABS), an NLW is essentially used to interrogate (determine the intent of the person in order to identify friend or foe) rather than attempt to incapacitate a target. To determine the impacts of employing NLWs in an urban combat environment (with civilians on the battlefield), three factors were varied across 15 design points: the ability of U.S. military forces to positively identify a target, the range of the selected NLW, and the distribution/number of NLWs in an SCU. By replicating each design point and analyzing the resulting output data, the following insights were determined: the use of NLWs does not degrade U.S. survivability; NLWs are essential to neutralizing suicide attacks; and NLWs decrease civilian casualties.
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