Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reducing civilian casualties in war

A new device being developed by the US Army may change how we look at war.

The Active Denial System – or ADS – is actually a ray gun that makes people think their skin is on fire. They move out of the way quickly but without injury.

Here’s how it works: ADS’s powerful rays reach the nerve endings in the skin and cause intense pain without damaging cells. ADS rays can penetrate clothing and windows but not thicker materials like concrete or metal.

US commanders in Iraq believe the device could save thousands of civilian lives. In the last two years alone, the AP reports that the war has caused over 27,000 civilian deaths and 31,000 injuries.

The system was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, at a cost of $62 million, about one ten-thousandth the estimated cost of the Iraqi war. Still, Pentagon officials say the technology is too expensive.

That’s one reason the Pentagon has yet to give the go-ahead to the device’s deployment; another is concern that it could be misconstrued as a torture machine.

$62 million too expensive? Finding an alternative to killing civilians is torture?

Sounds like military intelligence to me.

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