by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
April 1, 2004
U.S. MICROWAVE WEAPON GOING TO IRAQ, EXPERT SAYS
BRADENTON, Fla., April 1, 2004 -- The United States has decided to deploy a $40-million, futuristic non-lethal microwave weapons system that can burn but not blind crowds and combatants at several hundred yards, according to official notice given to retired U.S. Army Col. John Alexander, a consultant to U.S. military forces who is credited with developing the modern concept of non-lethal defense, The American Reporter has learned.
Asked on "Joe Shea at Noon" on WWPR-AM 1490 in Bradenton, Fla., what non-lethal weapons might be in the hands of armies in the future, Col. Alexander unexpectedly revealed new information about one of the nation's most secret and mysterious weapons system and said a decision has been reached to deploy it to Iraq.
"There are some big systems that are coming along," he said. "The 'Active Denial' system being built by the military, this is a microwave system that can project a beam for hundreds of meters and, in fact, I just learned last week that they're going to actually deploy this to Iraq. Now if you want a system that can keep people at bay at a significant distance, that will be the system.
"This is a beam that's put out and basically it inflicts pain. I have been zapped by the prototype, and it is extremely effective. It hits the outer layers of the skin and any minor [contact] - anything that's exposed - will cause you to cease and desist immediately."
However, Col. Alexander continued, "The eyes are perfectly safe. There have been substantial studies done. The microwaves themselves do not penetrate the skin or the cornea. So what they do is they penetrate just far enough to hit the pain receptors. So unlike some of the articles when this first came out, you can't just turn it up and cook people, for instance. The microwaves themselves do not penetrate."
Asked if it is the kind of weapon that could be deployed against the raging mob that assassinated four U.S. security contractors in Fallujah yesterday, Col. Alexander responded, "Yes."
"It is not ready for full fielding yet, but just within the past couple days I saw a notice that they are going to send it, and my guess, it'll be used for flank defense of what we know as the Green Zone." The Green Zone is the area surrounding U.S. forces headquarters in Baghdad where there have been many car bomb and rocket attacks as well as mob activity in recent months. "The exact range I'm not at liberty to discuss, but it is several hundred meters," he said. "The Active Denial System microwave operates at 93 Gigahertz and is very effective," he said.
Col. Alexander was asked to appear on "Joe Shea at Noon," hosted by this reporter, to talk about ways U.S. forces could exert more control over raging mobs such as those seen celebrating the gruesome murders in Fallujah, a city of 500,000 north of Iraq in the so-called Sunni Triangle where some are still loyal to the former Saddam Hussein regime. He has recently been in Afghanistan as a consultant to U.S. forces there and has written a book, "Winning The War," available from Amazon.com and published by St. Martin's Press.
He is the former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory program on non-lethal weapons and served as the U.S. representative on four international studies conducted by NATO, and has chaired most of the major conferences on non-lethal weapons over the past decade. He retired after 34 years in the U.S. Army, where he served mostly in Special Operations and Intelligence capacities.
Information about the nature and scope of the Active Denial Technology program is available on several U.S. Air Force Websites.
The Air Force Research Laboratory lauded the program last year, saying "One of the attractive features of ADT is that the probability of hit is 100% since ballistics effects are irrelevant." The program has also faced controversy, with some sceintists charging that it could blind innocent persons. The Air Force has said the microwave energy goes no deeper than 1/64th of an inch, not penetrating deeply enough to cause permanent harm.
"Active Denial Technology is a breakthrough non-lethal technology that uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary from relatively long range. It is expected to save countless lives by providing a way to stop individuals without causing injury, before a deadly confrontation develops," an Air Force press release said last year.
"The energy beam travels at the speed of light. As long as electricity is available, a continuous or pulsed beam of energy can be projected. Operators can direct this beam toward individual targets, sweep it across many targets, dwell it to suppress snipers, or create an energy barrier. The range of ADT considerably exceeds the range of conventional non-lethal technologies and is meant to outrange small arms fire. Possible applications of ADT are airborne, maritime, fixed site, or man-portable. Researchers are studying all applications for their operational benefits and technical feasibility," the Air Force Research Laboratory said in March 2001, when the weapon was first tested on human volunteers and animals.
Underlying the microwave beam is a powerful magnetron developed by Communications & Power Industries (CPI), which was bought out in 2003 by a private equity capital venture firm, Cypress Group, Inc.
Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter and host of AM-1490's "Joe Shea at Noon" in Bradenton, Fla.