It is common knowledge that our armed forces have a wide variety of equipment to use when conducting warfare. Small scale items like body armor and machine guns to large scale weapons such as laser-guided smart bombs and robot aircraft patrol battlefields to make an operation more interconnected than ever before. Helping protect our troops when fighting for our country something that cannot and will not be denied. Yet there are some weapons that are best left to science fiction novels, because if the Active Denial System is put into practice then we all have a serious problem on our hands.
From ABC News:
Yeah, focusing it on the hull of a boat is one thing, but trusting the military to not use it on a civilian population that is exercising their right to protest would be like making a fish live out of water. This is a very serious weapon that Raytheon has created and needs to be kept out of the hands of those that can do maximum damage with it. In the heat of a battle, there is no way to know if it will be used safely so that hundreds of people are not severely burned or literally fried to death.
After years of testing, the Active Denial System -- the pain ray which drives off rioters with a microwave-like beam -- could finally have its day. The Army is buying five of the truck-mounted systems for $25 million. But the energy weapon may face new hurdles, before it's shipped off to the battlefield; a new report details how the supposedly non-lethal blaster could be turned into a flesh-frying killer. [...]
Dr. Altmann describes the Active Denial beam in some detail, noting that it will not be completely uniform; anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the center will experience more heating than someone at the edge. And perhaps more significant is his thorough analysis of the heating it produces -- and the cumulative effect if the target does not have the chance to cool down between exposures. In U.S. military tests, a fifteen-second delay between exposures was strictly observed; this may not happen when the ADS is used for real.
This potential hazard need not be a show-stopper -- existing less-lethals, such as plastic bullets and tear gas, can also be fatal under some circumstances (and I'm not even going to get into the argument about Tasers).
Dr. Altmann notes that "the present analysis has not found convincing arguments that the ADS would be immoral or illegal in each foreseeable circumstance," and that acceptance will depend very much on how it is used. If the ADS prevents small boats from approaching a U.S. vessel without harming anyone, then it will be seen as a humane option. If it is used to clear protesters out of the way it may be seen differently.
And most importantly, what is going to stop this from being used on protesters at a large contentious event like a "free trade" conference? Thousands of people show up that are opposed to governments that give more power to corporations than the citizens they are supposed to serve. This "ADS" is nothing but a bad idea. Let Tom Clancy and all the war-loving writers imagine for their readers how it could work, but please, leave it out of real, live situations.