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The DoD Non-Lethal Weapons Program develops and fields Intermediate Force Capabilities between presence and lethal effects in support of the Joint Force.

Transform the National Security Enterprise by mainstreaming the planning and employment of Intermediate Force Capabilities to arm the Joint Force with the fullest range of capabilities in support of National Security objectives.


The Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program stimulates and coordinates non-lethal weapons requirements of the U.S. Armed Services and allocates resources to help meet these requirements. The Commandant of the Marine Corps serves as the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Agent.

Located at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., the Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office serves as the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program Executive Agent's day-to-day management office.

The U.S. Armed Services work with the combatant commanders and the executive agent through a joint process to identify requirements and coordinate the planning, programming and funding of non-lethal weapons research, development and acquisition. Within the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program, the Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office and the Services fund science and technology, research and development, as well as test and evaluation for non-lethal weapons.


Connections: The Quarterly Journal: Hybrid Warfare and the Need for Intermediate Force Capabilities

NATO is faced with adversaries undertaking acts of aggression that deliberately stay below the lethal force threshold or aim to trigger a lethal response from NATO and incur costs to the Alliance such as undesired escalation, risks of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, or negative narratives. Examples of these activities range from dangerous aerial and maritime approaches, fomenting unrest and using refugees as a weapon, and even use of force short of lethal to intimidate opponents. Currently, the NATO responses are often limited to two extremes of mere presence or applying lethal force, thus ceding the initiative to the adversary. This issue contains a set of articles exploring intermediate force capabilities (e.g., non-lethal weapons, cyber, information operations, electromagnetic warfare, and strategic capabilities such as stability policing and use of special operation forces) and how they can address current NATO dilemma when operating below the threshold of lethal force.

Link to the full journal here: Current Issue | Connections: The Quarterly Journal (

Access the PDF here: /Portals/50/Documents/Resources/Publications/Journal_Articles/Connections_The Quarterly Journal-Hybrid Warfare and the Need for Intermediate Force Capabilities.pdf?ver=A2DAmL8PVzMhhCmGV2K-cQ%3d%3d

Prevailing without Gunsmoke in the South China Sea

The 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance directed development of new capabilities to better compete and deter gray zone strategies and tactics, but the Sea Services are not equipped to counter the threat. However, because of the gap, they have an opportunity to lead the joint force in changing the limiting mindset of nonlethal weapons (NLWs) to intermediate force capabilities (IFCs) to counter parts of China’s gray zone threat in the western Pacific.

See the full article here:

Beyond Bean Bags and Rubber Bullets: Intermediate Force Capabilities Across the Competition Continuum

The phrase nonlethal weapons (NLW) often brings to mind capabilities such as bean bags, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and electric stun guns. These capabilities are used domestically by law enforcement and by the military primarily for protection and security missions. Nonlethal weapons technology, however, has advanced significantly over the past 20 years. Technological advancements, including the development of prototype-directed energy capabilities, could provide a variety of counterpersonnel and countermateriel effects without destruction. Could this new generation of capabilities provide senior leaders and operational commanders intermediate force options that support the full spectrum of military objectives? If so, how do they fit in the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) focus on increased lethality?

Read the full article here: Beyond Bean Bags and Rubber Bullets: Intermediate Force Capabilities Across the Competition Continuum > National Defense University Press > News Article View ( 

The Commandant’s Guidance for the DOD Non-Lethal Weapons Program

Many Marines may be surprised to learn that the Commandant of the Marine Corps serves as the Department of Defense Executive Agent for Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW), or that Gen Charles C. Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, volunteered the Marine Corps to take on a leadership role in their development in 1996. Almost 25 years later, NLW—which have been associated primarily with law enforcement and military security missions—are at a strategic turning point. NLW technology, to include directed energy systems, has advanced significantly.

See the full article here: The-Commandant’s-Guidance-for-the-DOD-Non-Lethal-Weapons-Program.pdf ( 

Non-Lethal Weapons? Will Marines ever use this capability?

NLW enhance the lethality of U.S. military forces by enabling precision engagement and allowing units to not destroy that which is not necessary. In so doing, current and future NLW will take the Marine Corps one step closer to Sun Tzu’s greatest, and most elusive, victory: that which requires no battle.

Read the full article here: Non-Lethal-Weapons-1.pdf ( 

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