In the News

Non-lethal elective course enrollment rising; Courses’ Range Day remains highlight

By Kelley Hughes Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate Public Affairs Office

The Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program uses a variety of educational programs to promote increased understanding of non-lethal weapons and technologies. These efforts and others are designed to increase awareness on the utility of non-lethal weapons across the range of military operations.

Throughout the year, the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program provides a resident Joint Professional Military Education elective and a non-lethal weapons online course.

The resident course, provided by Pennsylvania State University, is an elective class held at military academic institutions to increase non-lethal capability understanding among service members. Military institutions at which Penn State conducts the elective, “Non-Lethal Weapons: Supporting the Operational Art Across the Range of Military Operations,” include: the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army War College, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Naval War College, Air War College, National Defense University and Joint Forces Staff College.

The course provides students a better understanding of the applicability of non-lethal capabilities in an operational environment and it also makes them aware of unique factors to be considered during operational planning, “ said Army Maj. Jason V. Sama, Capabilities and Requirements Division, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Marine Corps Base Quantico. Sama is the Directorate’s education officer who leads JPME and online course efforts.

During the Range Day portion of the elective course, students fired non-lethal munitions which included 12 gauge fin stabilized rounds, 12 gauge joint non-lethal warning munitions, 40 mm rubber ball munitions and 40 mm foam baton rounds.

“We are experiencing an uptick in interest in non-lethal capabilities by our operating forces, especially in complex environments, ranging from Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief to crowd management, “ said Sama. “We have also seen a recent rise in enrollment in the elective course. There was a 58 percent increase in student enrollment for the JPME elective during Fiscal Year 13-14.

The elective course’s curriculum includes discussion applications of non-lethal capabilities across the spectrum of conflict and in escalation-of-force situations. The course not only gives students a better understanding of the applicability of non-lethal capabilities in an operational environment, but also makes them aware of unique factors to be considered during operational planning. The course also provides students an overview of future non-lethal capabilities.

The 16-hour elective course instruction includes the following non-lethal weapons instruction:
  • Range Day
  • Non-Lethal Capability Sets
  • Globally Available Non-Lethal Weapons
  • Legal Implications
  • High Energy Technology
  • Irregular Warfare and Complex Operations
  • Human Effects Testing/Medical Implications
  • Support to Homeland Defense and Communication Synchronization
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Strategy and Doctrine
  • Lessons Learned
The DOD Non-Lethal Weapons Program also has a non-lethal weapons online course for U.S. operating forces. The course, available via Joint Knowledge Online learning site, provides instruction on non-lethal weapons characteristics, employment, policy and applicability across the range of military operations.

his course takes approximately four hours to complete and contains nine modules and an exam. The non-lethal weapons modules include: history; weapons; strategic impacts; tactical employment; escalation-of-force; counter-personnel and counter-materiel; characteristics/usage; future non-lethal weapons; munitions and devices, fielded non-lethal weapons capability sets; and operational vignettes.

The DOD Non-Lethal Weapons Program’s Non-Lethal Weapons online course requires access via a Common Access Card for U.S. military and government employees and contractors.

For information, contact Sama, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at or 703-432-0891. Additional information on the DOD Non-Lethal Weapons Program is available at: