Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms Calif. --
Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 7 participated in a non-lethal weapons training exercise in conjunction with the U.S Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program on March 21 at Range 800.
The Marines learned to use the Active Denial System 2, an advanced non-lethal, direct-fire support system that projects a man-sized beam of heat-emitting, millimeter waves. It can effectively engage targets up to 1,000 meters.
One of the many roles the ADS 2 can play is suppressive fire. It can support troops in a number of different scenarios such as perimeter security, crowd control and advance-to-contact if employed in-country.
Volunteers had the opportunity to step into the path of the ADS 2 and feel the effects of the system.
“What an amazing device,” said Master Sgt. David Lee Sutherland, battalion maintenance chief, Headquarters Company, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “As far as the capabilities, getting hit with it and how it felt, it is an absolutely great deterrent.”
Following the individual exposures, a squad-sized element of Marines acted out a number of scenarios during a live demonstration to portray its versatility.
Instructors also gave Marines a chance to see just how useful this non-lethal weapon is during the demonstration. The Marine patrol utilized the ADS 2 to deter the combatants from perusing the civilians. In a simulation depicting potential enemy combatants harassing the local civilian populous, Marines were able to see that a combatant standing within five feet of a civilian bystander could be safely engaged without causing undo harm to non-combatants.
“It is a directed energy and advanced system,” said Col. Tracy Tafolla, director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. “However, it is not new. We have studied this particular technology for about 20 years now.”
There have been approximately 11,000 exposures from volunteers and only two have required minimal medical treatment. The 95-gigahertz millimeter wave beam is safe and is only capable of penetrating a skin depth of about 1/64 of an inch, Tafolla said.
“It provides a repel effect,” Tafolla said. “It denies an area that you don’t want people to be in. It is quite a capability that we don’t (utilize in combat zones) right now.”
The ADS 2 is designed to be able to withstand small-arms fire and stay in the field for up to a year, in any temperature or weather. The system can be transported by truck and can be dropped off at different operating modules. However, when the ADS 2 is being used, it is made to work alongside lethal weapons.
“We don’t employ (non-lethal weapons) by themselves, it’s always best that you employ them with lethal systems,” Taffola said. “Just like you would have a lethal crew-served weapon mounted on to a gun truck. This just happens to be a non-lethal weapon that you would mount and be able to provide those suppressive fires.”
This is not annual training for the Marines of CLB-7, but training with non-lethal technology gives them a better understanding of its capabilities.
“We are not always in the fight,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Nguyen, CLB-7 adjutant. “But we are Marines and it is important to know about this technology so we can leverage its capabilities.”