Ecoterra International – 2009-02-13 22:51:04
US Navy to Test “Pain-Ray” and Laser Weapons on Somali Pirates
According to recently leaked information the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden are also used as a cover-up for the live testing of recently developed arsenals of so called non-lethal as well as sub-lethal weapons systems. The US Navy already has about 45 of the sonic blasters, known as Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs.
They “plug the LRAD into an MP3 player to broadcast pre-recorded warnings in Somali or Arabic, or they can repel small boats with a built-in klaxon. “It’s very effective up to 1,000 metres and excruciating if you get within 100 to 200 metres if it’s at full power. It would give you more or less permanent hearing damage.”
New-model LRADs also include a laser dazzler, to temporarily blind attackers, and a high-tech spotlight as part of a single unit. But LRADs don’t work when they take an AK-47 round through them and recent reality-tests did proof that they are not only useless but endanger operating guards and crew. One therefore looks for stronger tools.
One such weapon — officially known as the Active Denial System, or ADS, is a less-lethal weapon that uses directed energy in form of a millimetre wave that penetrates a 64th of a inch beneath the skin, causing an unbearable burning sensation by firing a 6-foot-wide beam. People in its path must run or jump overboard.
This “pain ray”-weapon can, conceivably, be also used as some kind of torture tool, which has made it “not politically tenable,” according to a Defense Science Board report but moreover a study, released in Germany, notes that the weapon “has a potential to produce permanent injury or death.”
The US Marine Corps has been on the forefront to test these weapons in the field — and has done so already earlier during military operations in Somalia like during Restore Hope (1992-1993) and United Shield (1995).
The US Navy has had less involvement in NLW testing, but seems now to catch up. Fifth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Bill Gortney issued an “urgent” request for “non-lethal weapons that could enable cruisers and destroyers to keep small boats at bay,” Navy Times reports. Fifth Fleet is the branch of the Navy that is currently dealing with the Somali pirate threat, among other things.
According to the Federation of American Scientist, the US military is currently also engaged in several research efforts to develop non-lethal chemical and biological weapons. These weapons can be placed into two main categories: incapacitants and anti-material agents.
Incapacitants are biological and chemical substances that have a “calmative” effect on humans, and can cause symptoms such as nausea, disorganized thinking, and hallucinations.
While new developments of preventive measures, like the Running Gear Entanglement System (RGES) — a clever system of floating lines with loops, which are supposed to be caught by the propeller of an approaching attack-skiff and thereby stop its propulsion — are showing the way how do do things. But the use e.g. of chemical agents with debilitating capabilities disguised as “smoke-bombs” must actually be considered already as chemical warfare.
The rules of engagement of navies entering now the Somali waters must be by all means supervised by an independent committee comprising of Somali governmental representatives, members from parliament select committees of the participating countries and independent specialists in order to ensure that none of such testingatrocities can happen during the operations in Somali Waters. Especially the testing or use of neuro-electromagnetic devices that transmits microwave radiation sound pulses into a person’s skull must be ruled out. All use of force must be decisively documented, openly reported and be made publicly available.
Since the President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia had given his consent to use force against pirates to several navies, but set the condition that any such operation can only be carried out in close co-operation with the Somali Government and since that permission has not yet been ratified by the Somali Parliament, it is obvious that no factual permission for the use of lethal or non-lethal force has been given.
Those who believe that the UN security council resolutions could be interpreted as carte blanche permissions or even order the use of force are clearly mistaken in terms of international law.
In order to avert any atrocities right from the start, especially the UN but also the EU and NATO have to come up with clear oversight mechanisms, which would hold water to any scrutiny by the Somali governances, by elected members of governments from participating nations, by human-rights and seafarers organizations and the public at large.
French investigators who boarded a hijacked yacht in April reported finding a pirates’ “good conduct guide” that forbade i.a. sexual assault. Where is the code of conduct for the navies? Sailors and naval officers on all navy vessels during their Horn of Africa mission are urged not to become complicit in weapons testing ranging from NLW’s to THEL/ACTD or other new death- or destruction-bringing inventions.
At the time of the attack on MT BISCAGLIA the vessel had three security guards from UK company Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions on board, who jumped overboard and were subsequently picked up by a German helicopter.
The attack sparked arguments with American Technology Corp, which had supplied sonic lasers for the ship, that the devices had been incorrectly deployed and the security representatives had been “asleep at the wheel”, a point hotly disputed by the company.
Natural Resources Foreign navies entering the 200nm EEZ of Somalia and foreign helicopters and troops must respect the fact that especially all wildlife is protected by Somali national as well as by international laws and that the protection of the marine resources of Somalia from illegally fishing foreign vessels should be an integral part of the anti-piracy operations.
Likewise, the navies must adhere to international standards and not pollute the coastal waters with oil, ballast water or waste from their own ships and help Somalia to fight against any dumping of any waste (incl. diluted, toxic or nuclear waste).
Armed Fish Poachers Illegally operating Tuna fishing vessels (many from South Korea, some from Greece and China) carry armed personnel and force their way in JUanuary 2009 into the Somali fishing grounds — uncontrolled or even protected by the naval forces mandated to guard the Somali waters against any criminal activity.
The naval armada driven escalation did lead now to a situation, whereby some Somali groups have modified and reinforced their fibreglass-skiffs with partly metal hulls and have equipped them with heavy weapons (50 mm guns, light canons, mortars and some reports even speak of rocket-launchers).
It will be only a short while until serious disaster incidences will happen triggered by clashes between Somali seagoing groups and fishing-, merchant- or even naval vessels. Never before Somali groups went so heavily armed on the waters after former president Siad Barre’s Navy and coastguard faltered.
ECOTERRA Intl. — Nairobi Node +254-733-633-733 EEA www.ecoterra-international.org . email@example.com
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.