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New Zealand Defense Force Officers Learn about Non-Lethal Capabilities in the Escalation of Force

By Nancy Koreen Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate

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QUANTICO, Va. – Officers from the New Zealand Defense Force paid a visit to the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate in Quantico, Va., on April 6, to learn more about non-lethal weapons capabilities. The officers wanted to draw on the experiences of the U.S. military to learn more about how they can incorporate escalation-of-force tools into the New Zealand Army's arsenal.

Non-lethal weapons are defined as "weapons, devices and munitions that are explicitly designed and primarily employed to incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel immediately, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel and undesired damage to property in the target area or environment. Non-lethal weapons are intended to have reversible effects on personnel and materiel." Non-lethal weapons provide warfighters with additional escalation-of-force options before having to resort to lethal force. These capabilities assist warfighters in discerning intent, delaying and deterring individuals, and discriminating targets in a variety of missions ranging from full-scale combat to humanitarian relief — all while minimizing casualties and damage to property.

New Zealand Defence Force officers Col. Phil Collett, Lt. Col. Peter Kelly and Maj. J.P. Kaio visited the JNLWD to learn about best practices, upcoming technologies and training methods for non-lethal weapons. Col. Collett, assistant chief of General Staff for Capability, explained that the New Zealand army has fledgling non-lethal capabilities based on an urgent operational requirement and is now trying to field non-lethal weapons throughout the entire Army.

"We've identified the need for a less-lethal force option," said Col. Collett. "You've got to give your forces the ability to escalate — to give options between shouting and shooting. You've got to have the ability to deal with belligerent individuals in situations where the rules of engagement don't allow the use of lethal force."

During the visit, Douglas Jerothe, deputy director at the JNLWD, told the officers about upcoming directed-energy technologies the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program is researching, including vehicle- and vessel-stopping efforts, as well as new counter-personnel technologies. Jerothe also offered information on some of the challenges the U.S. military is facing in fielding non-lethal weapons. He explained that the military and the public need to understand that non-lethal weapons provide an additional option but do not replace lethal force.

"Use of non-lethal weapons first is situationally dependant," said Jerothe. "Non-lethal weapons are an arrow in a commander's quiver. Use of non-lethal capabilities does not prevent warfighters from using lethal means when required."

The New Zealand visitors expressed great interest in expanding their Army's non-lethal capabilities and appreciated the opportunity to learn from the U.S. military's experiences. They also provided the JNLWD information about their experiences with and requirements for non-lethal weapons. The visit helped foster a growing rapport between the two countries and will help expand non-lethal capabilities throughout the U.S.'s international allies.