What’s the best way to field-test weapons without all the bad publicity?

Question: What’s the best way to field-test new weapons before using them in battle against our enemies?

Answer: Use them on our own citizens. Duh!

According to a report on Tuesday by the United States Air Force, if America wants to avoid a public relations fiasco should something go wrong with one of their new “nonlethal” weapons, they should first test them on American citizens. That way if the weapon, which emits an “energy pulse” that can also disrupt “some electronic devices” (say, like a pacemaker?), accidentally hurts or even kills someone, well at least they won’t have the BBC News or Aljazeera making them look bad in the world media.

And you have to love the quote by Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne who said, “If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation.” Thank God (literally) that he wasn’t talking about carpet bombs!

Look, I know we’re talking about “nonlethal” weapons here. I certainly hope that the United States government has enough common sense not to use us as guinea pigs for the ones that could really do some damage. But I have to admit that it is a little bit disconcerting to hear our government legitimately talk about field-testing their arsenal on American citizens in order to avoid some bad publicity. And in a day when the ethics of government and their infringement on our civil liberties (perceived or othewise) is being continually called into question, this recommendation by the U.S. Air Force seems like they’d be setting a dangerous precedent.

Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

“If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,” said Wynne. “(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.”

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.

One thought on “What’s the best way to field-test weapons without all the bad publicity?

  1. Urgh! Weird story. On the one hand, you gotta eventually test these things in the field. And frankly, I’d want to know it worked before using it in a battlefield setting. On the other hand, I’d want to know they worked before using them for crowd control in the US, too! Weird comments. Weird comments.

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