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Command and General Staff Officers Course students conduct non-lethal weapons familiarization

By Harry Sarles | April 27, 2016

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Students from the Command and General Staff Officers Course participated in a non-lethal weapons range at the Lansing Correctional Facility Range on April 14. The range experience with administrative and logistical support from the 15th Military Police Brigade was part of an electives course in non-lethal weapons offered to CGSOC students.

The course was originally designed as an elective for the Army War College by the Applied Research Laboratory at The Pennsylvania State University and the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at Quantico, Va. It is the fourth year the course has been taught at CGSC. The intent of the course is to give officers an additional tool that can be used in different situations.

"Non-lethal weapons were available downrange," said Army Lt. Col. Donald Bishop, CGSOC instructor for the course. "We didn't think about them. Commanders and planners were unfamiliar with them and units had not trained with them." He said going forward to a time when missions will be conducted in a variety of environments non-lethal means have to be considered. Retired Marine Col. Scott Buran, Penn State instructor for the course, noted that non-lethal weapons are always employed with lethal over-watch.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps is the Executive Agent of the Defense Department Non-Lethal Weapons Program and proponent for non-lethal weapons course that is taught at war colleges and service schools across the services. Non-lethal weapons provide our operating forces escalation-of-force options, minimizing casualties and collateral damage.

At the range, organized by Marine Capt. Anuarite B. Mubangu of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, the 30 CGSOC students were exposed to the TASER® X26P™, a non-lethal weapon that is designed to disable an individual and support missions including force protection and crowd control. [TASER® is a brand name for the device used by the Defense Department. Other manufacturers make similar devices.] The TASER® is an electro-muscular incapacitation device that uses a nitrogen air cartridge propulsion system to launch two probes tethered to an electrically-charged cartridge. It is effective to 35 feet depending on cartridge type and can penetrate clothing.

Mubangu demonstrated the use of the TASER® with students volunteering to participate as subjects. Army Majors Ronald Haro, Mario Quevedo, and Benjamin Lukas struggled hard but quickly went down under the effects of the TASER®. Mubangu explained the TASER's® effects were immediately reversible. As soon as the weapon's 5-second burst ends or the user stops the electric charge the subject begins to recover. Then, students fired the TASER® at static targets.

Following the TASER® experience students operated the FN-303 compressed air launcher. The FN-303 is designed to deny access into and out of an area to individuals, move individuals through an area, and suppress individuals. It can also be fired at vehicles to warn drivers. This technology has the potential to support multiple missions including force protection, detainee operations, crowd control, defensive and offensive operations. The FN-303 is a semi-automatic air powered launcher designed to fire non-lethal projectiles. Projectiles include a training/blunt impact, marking (washable-pink, permanent-yellow), and Oleoresin Capsicum/Pelargonic Acid Vanillylamide (PAVA) -- orange).

The non-lethal rounds don't look too dangerous splattering against static targets, but 1st Sgt. Mike Green, firearms instructor and armoring officer at the Lansing Correctional Facility showed heavy steel doors on a structure at the range that were deeply dented by fire from the FN-303.

Students then fired 12-gauge and 40mm weapons. Munitions for both weapons systems have the capability to deliver blunt trauma effects to individuals. Multiple services currently employ these rounds in force protection, checkpoints, patrols/convoys, and crowd control. Different types of 12-gauge munitions are available such as Bean Bag, Fin Stabilized, and Crowd Dispersal cartridge. Forty millimeter munitions are available as Sponge Grenade, Foam Baton, Rubber Ball and Crowd Dispersal.

The final demonstration involved the 12-Gauge Joint Non-Lethal Warning Munition, the LA51. The device is fired from a 12-gauge military shotgun to produce a visible and audible signal at a range of 100 meters. It produces a flash intensity at three million candelas that can be seen even on a bright cloudless day. Volunteering during the TASER® demonstration earned the three majors the right to fire the first LA-51 rounds.

The final flash and bang from an LA-51 signaled the end of the range day for the CGSOC students.