In what won’t be the last instances of laser-related “friendly fire” three US soldiers in Iraq have been hospitalised, and one has been blinded in one eye, by a green dazzling laser:
Since November 2008, a single unit in Iraq “has experienced 12 green-laser incidents involving 14 soldiers and varying degrees of injury. Three soldiers required medical evacuation out of Iraq and one soldier is now blind in one eye,” writes Sgt. Crystal Reidy
[from Wired][image from Wired]
Last November, Public Radio International’s Here and Now broadcast a news story about the U.S. Army’s 1,000-square-mile National Training Center at Fort Irwin, in California’s Mohave Desert — an urban warfare simulator now being used to train soldiers bound for the real Iraq. Now a documentary film about the site, Full Battle Rattle, follows an Army battalion and role-playing insurgents “as they attempt to quell an insurgency and prevent Medina Wasl, a mock Iraqi village, from slipping into civil war.” Fake body parts, robot mannequins, costumed American and Iraqi actors, and Killed In Action cards are all part of the mix.
One of the little-recognized horrors from the Vietnam War was the amount of soldiers coming back from duty, only to be unable to reintegrate properly back into society, often leading to drug use and homelessness (at least, this is the stereotype I’ve grown up with – it may or may not be true). As a child, there were always rumors of someone-or-other’s father or uncle or who was a vet and would jump at loud noises and always checked their surroundings for ambushes. Of course, we also believed that the woods nearby was a secret testing ground for mutant animals, but hey – we were kids.
Now, in a bid to prevent this from happening to returning Iraq veterans, the US Department of Defense is attempting to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with virtual reality as one of the main components. The treatment is called “prolonged-exposure therapy,” meant to help people deal with traumatic memories by exposing soldiers to an environment similar to what they experienced in Iraq, but without people actually trying to kill them. The details in the article explain it better than I can. It’s not the first time this has been tried, but computing power is better now, and results seem promising.
(photo via entro_py)
The US military continues to develop and deploy non-lethal weapon systems like the directed energy weapon from Raytheon. The latest system to come to light is the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) that focuses sound waves into a beam that induces unbearable pain in anyone it strikes:
Anyone whose head was touched by this beam, heard a painfully loud sound. Anyone standing next to them heard nothing. But those hit by the beam promptly fled, or fell to the ground in pain.
It turns out that the device also functions as a pretty effective psychological operations (PSYOPS) tool:
LRAD can also broadcast speech for up to 300 meters. The navy planned to use LRAD to warn ships to get out of the way. This was needed in places like the crowded coastal waters of the northern Persian Gulf, where the navy patrols. Many small fishing and cargo boats ply these waters, and it’s often hard to get the attention of the crews. With LRAD, you just aim it at a member of the crew, and have an interpreter “speak” to the sailor. It was noted that the guy on the receiving end was sometimes terrified, even after he realized it was that large American destroyer that was talking to him. This apparently gave the army guys some ideas, for there are now rumors in Iraq of a devilish American weapon that makes people believe they are hearing voices in their heads…
It appears that some of the troops in Iraq are using “spoken” (as opposed to “screeching”) LRAD to mess with enemy fighters. Islamic terrorists tend to be superstitious and, of course, very religious. LRAD can put the “word of God” into their heads. If God, in the form of a voice that only you can hear, tells you to surrender, or run away, what are you gonna do?
Last Summer, the U.S. Army sent three armed Talon IIIB robots, also know as SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detecting System) to Iraq, where they were handed over to the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division for “more realistic” testing. Apparently the tests went well – the commander of the 3rd Brigade has asked for twenty more. The army already has 80 more on order.
The [robots] will be used as a 125 pound armed sentry, not a combat droid. Or so the official announcement went. So far, the tests appear to have been successful. Swords can also be armed with a 7.62mm machine-gun (and 300 rounds of ammo), a .50 caliber sniper rifle or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.