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Press Briefing Nonlethal Weapons and Capabilities: An Independent Task Force Report

Speakers: Richard L. Garwin, Task Force director; Phillip D. Reed senior fellow and director, Science and Technology Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, P.X. Kelley, Task Force co-chair; USMC (Ret.), former Marine Corps commandant, and Graham T. Allison, Task Force co-chair; director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University’'s John F. Kennedy School of Government
February 26, 2004
Council on Foreign Relations


Council on Foreign Relations
Washington, D.C.

RICHARD GARWIN: [In progress]--and you cannot inflict that on them because of these acts in which they participate. So, in substantial part, the forces of chaos in Iraq were able to develop because our existing nonlethal weapons and those they could have deployed were not sufficiently widely available and were not part of the top level planning. This needs to be remedied.

Now, on pages 51 to 55 of our report, we have three fables and one account of a real encounter, indicating how nonlethal weapons might have changed the balance in Iraq. Nonlethal weapons are not substitutes for lethal force. They might be used in concert or in sequence. For instance, successive nonlethal barriers or means to stop vehicles might be teamed with a sure-fire, lethal, last-ditch barrier to detonate truck bombs, where fewer people would be killed than if the vehicle were allowed to proceed and to explode at its intended target. Any weapons system can be overwhelmed, and you see in some cases concerted efforts to overwhelm our ability to respond. So, you can't count on having enough force of a given type. You may need— even though nonlethal would be the ideal response— you may need to back them up with lethal weapons in case of a concerted onslaught.

Now, the remedy for this deficiency is for the leadership of the Defense Department, the White House and the Congress— but this is focused on the secretary of Defense— to recognize the necessity for a massive nonlethal weapon capability and to expand the means and the funds to replicate those we have and to plan to use them, and to field rapidly nonlethal weapons already demonstrated, such as vehicle stoppers, and to focus a significant part of the $62 billion annual R&D [Research and Development] budget of the Defense Department on nonlethal weapons and capability.

In contrast, we have the joint nonlethal weapons directive— directorate— that has done a masterful job, but at a level of about $30 million a year, one-two thousandth of the DOD [Department of Defense] R&D budget. One opportunity— this is a mixed bag of cats and dogs— some of them are race animals are some of them are guard dogs, and it's hard to know how exactly to use them all in competition with massive weapons programs, such as the Comanche, which was just canceled— a helicopter system that would have cost some $30 billion or so, and of course you can get a concerted beyond— behind that in the way of contractors and program managers and lobbyists. It's much harder to get them behind a mode of operation and a set of tools that have to be part of the tool bag, part of the education, a part of the planning. But, with $30 million a year, one-two thousandth of the Defense Department research and development is clearly inadequate to do the job.

One opportunity is to extend the range of the nonlethal capabilities that we have from mere combat, a few tens of feet, perhaps, from batons to the 21-foot length of a Taser wire, to hundreds of feet, to increase the standoff beyond rock-throwing range. And that can be done by new means of delivery of the same nonlethal weapons.

Well, I'm not going to go on much longer. I'm going to turn it over to General [P.X.] Kelley first and then to Graham Allison to say what they came to say, and then we'll have a discussion here. But I should only comment that in the last year I've watched in California two vehicle chases on the freeways. One took six hours. Obviously, I didn't watch it for six hours. It was a 30-mile-per-hour chase. It was followed by helicopters— police helicopters, news helicopters. You could see the California police— highway patrol put out spike strips in the various lanes, but the car maneuvered around them. And you ask why, at a time when people are wanting to develop microwave weapons that can be fired from a great distance, we didn't have from the helicopter something that could be dropped on the vehicle and would have shut off the ignition of this modern car, or a net that could have been dropped to enfold it and entrap it. So, it goes both ways. The Army and Marine Corps 10 years ago brought nonlethal weapons into our armed forces, largely from the Los Angeles police department and from the domestic experience. We should continue to do that, and there should be feedback to the domestic and to the homeland security needs.

GRAHAM ALLISON: Dick, if I could just add a footnote and a question, it would seem to me the application of such a technology, for example, to the auto chases in California, what would people in California do --

GARWIN: You mean for amusement? [Laughter.]


GENERAL P.X. KELLEY: Have a lot of— [inaudible] --

GARWIN: That's true. But in our armed forces, we would like to get the job over and come back as soon as possible. So, those are my views on the report. And I would like to thank the experienced military and civilian members of the task force, who are listed on page 40 and 43, and the observers as well for their engagement and their contributions. The observers are listed on page 45. And now, I ask P.X. Kelley for his comments.

KELLEY: Thank you, Dick. Sitting here, I was reminded about the old saying, "There's nothing to screw up a good story like a lot of eyewitnesses." And unfortunately, there are a lot of eyewitnesses here. But I'm going to take about 30 seconds just to recognize one— and a cute little story— and that's Bob Pelletreau, who, as some of you remember, when I commanded the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, was serving as the State Department rep[resentative] in the building [the Pentagon]. And I had had a press conference in which I made a remark that was taken to mean that I supported pre-emptive strategies, which I did, and this was not a very popular theme in State. And so State— he warned me that the State Department action officers were in the process of preparing a letter to [then-Secretary of Defense] Harold Brown for Secretary [of State] [Edmund] Muskie's signature commending— not commending, but censuring me for establishing U.S. foreign policy. And I asked Bob, "What is the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East?" He said, "We really don't have one." And I said, "Well, god dammit, I'm going to make up my own then"— so, which I did, for a while. [Laughter.] Good to see you, Bob.

First, let me thank Les Gelb, our recently retired and very distinguished president of the Council, for asking me to co-chair this particular group, which I can only characterize as being very essential and very, very timely. In 1961, I had the great privilege of commanding a Royal Marine commando unit in Singapore, Borneo, and Malaya. I was stuck at the time by the [British] Royal Marines' emphasis in training on keeping the peace— not winning a war. But the real problem was keeping the peace after you won the war. In fact, I broke out the other night a copy of their manual. This would be about 10-feet thick if it had come out of the Pentagon, but typical British aplomb, the manual is quite complete, and it's called "Keeping the Peace." It was this focus, of course, that caused the Royal Marines over the course of time to pioneer some very, very interesting nonlethal approaches to their missions in support of civil power.

It was during the Cold War that— and I think Dick touched on this— that we faced, as we all know, a very enormous combat capability of the Soviet Union. And so it was difficult, if not almost impossible, to garner any support for something that was nonlethal in its nature. We were looking more for things that killed people. In fact, it wasn't until 1987, after the Defense Authorization Act for FY-86 designated the commandant of the Marine Corps as the executive agent and made him responsible for programs, recommendations, and for stimulating and coordinating all of the nonlethal weapon requirements. As a consequence, a Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate was formed at [the Marine Corps Base at] Quantico, [Virginia] and we are very fortunate today to have two very distinguished members of that. And I'd just ask them to stand for a moment. Colonel Dave Karcher, who heads it, and Susan LeVine, who was a very, very influential— provided influential inputs to our study. We thank you both.

As a consequence, this directorate that was formed at Quantico had the functional responsibility for all R&D nonlethal weapons on behalf of the Department of Defense. All of us who participated in this effort, I think it's fair to say, uniformly agreed that the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate has done a commendable job in developing and fielding current nonlethal capabilities. But we also agreed that given the importance of the subject, as manifested all too clearly recently in Iraq as we speak, it is severely understaffed and under-funded. And you can't expect a staff of 19 people, with a limited budget of roughly $30 million, to address much beyond the elements of force protection. But again, what they have done, they have done very, very well.

So, recognizing the essentiality of taking nonlethal weapons to a much higher plateau, we believe that DOD should study the options we have set forth. And, of course, there may be many more, but we have given them some to take a look at and study. But we fully agree that from our viewpoint, probably the best option that we can find is to have a much expanded Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate or a nonlethal director which is a JPO [Joint Program Office] that can operate independently. And working— this, of course, would work closely with the Joint Forces Command, acting as sort of a conduit to get us involved with the services, which I think is essential, to have a direct conduit line into the services to assist— to get them involved in our programs. So, with that said, we also believe that funding, which is now roughly $30 million— I understand it's gone up about eight for FY-05, Dave?

DAVID KARCHER: Yes sir. In FY-05, it will go up, sir, by 8.2 million [dollars], and also this year, the DOD has increased in FY-04 the intensity, since the report was started, by another 12 million [dollars]. So the total FY-04,--[inaudible.]

KELLEY: We believe that it's still grossly underfunded, and we're looking at a number that approaches something on the order of $300 million, and that may only be a starting point. But when you read the— read the report, you will find how essential this is. So, to put it in a little different way, we believe that there is a significant mismatch between the mission need statement that has been published within DOD and the organization and budget to support it. Graham.

GARWIN: Thank you. Graham.

ALLISON: I agree strongly with what both Dick and P.X. had said. This is a fascinating task force in that, as P.X. observed when we were chatting about it recently, it was the only Council task force in which either he or I ever participated in which the numbers of the participants at each meeting kept growing. So, this, I think, was testimony to the fact that we all learned a lot at each one of the sessions. And as co-chair with P.X., I'm especially grateful to Dick Garwin, who did the lion's share of the work for the whole committee. But actually, the whole working group, large numbers of the members brought direct experience as well as a lot of perspective to the issue. So, the product, I think, reflects the conversations in the working group, and the analysis and the recommendations I think are broadly supported by what was quite a diverse group of folks, some of whom had been thinking about these issues for a long time, and for some of whom this was a new and interesting and different issue.

I would just underline, I think, three points. First, the failure to integrate existing nonlethal weapons into U.S. Army and Marine forces operating in Iraq since the end of the— the end of the official conflict there, has caused unnecessary deaths among American servicemen and innocent Iraqi civilians. The report resisted estimating or trying to have any specific number in terms of the estimate of the number of unnecessary deaths. But by my body count, we're losing about one American every day in Iraq now, and a substantially larger number of Iraqis. And I would say— again, I haven't done an analysis of this, but if I were just betting, you might save at least one of those lives every week of the Americans, and a much larger number of Iraqis.

Secondly, in the Cold War, we had at the Pentagon when I worked for [Secretary of Defense] Cap Weinberger a hundred years ago, we developed something called "competitive strategies" for the Cold War. And competitive strategies attempted to identify and apply sustainable American strengths against long-term weaknesses of the adversary. Among the U.S.'s principle, sustainable strengths is technology and the capacity to develop technology. So again, the failure, not simply in the first point, to apply technologies that happen already to have gotten developed, whether by some local police department or other. But to exploit our technological strength in developing a family of nonlethal technologies is an absence of competitive strategy in dealing with adversaries that are not unusual, since we have seen this story before in Somalia, in Haiti— now in Iraq everyday, even on television— and now looking at Haiti in the current situation. So situations in which American military forces find themselves having to perform missions against adversaries who are integrated in or associated with large numbers of innocents, who are crowds or who are cover, or who are shields, or who are in any case in the midst of the confusion. It's not an unusual task for American forces. And not to have developed a family of technologies is, I think, an absence of application of competitive strategies.

So, finally, my third point, as students of organizations, we might wonder why American strength hasn't been applied in a more intelligent fashion to a recurring problem. If we ever had a demand situation, Iraq presents it every day, and the supply side in principle has got a defense budget of $400 billion— approximately, not counting the costs of war— and a technological base of an $11 trillion economy. So how is this not happening? Now, as students of the Pentagon, we might be able to explain this, and in defense terms, unless a program is a major, multi-billion-dollar program, it's hard to get much organized activity in support of it. And that's a sad, but I think evident, fact.

So for the Comanche helicopter, as has already been suggested, also the F-22 [jet fighter], or for many other items in the defense budget, a combination of service interests including the people running the program and external interests in terms of suppliers somehow get aligned to support a very substantial acquisition activity. In the absence of such activity, it requires the persistent, everyday determined intervention of high-level leadership. And for the absence of that, I think, one's got the two failures that I identified.

GARWIN: I think those of us who have been working for decades in national security see the impact of money, program size, closer attention on the large weapon systems. And I recall papers I've read and written on the past 30 years on exactly this topic. So in many cases the budget is really a cost. The budget is not an output. It's not a capability. It's a cost and opportunity cost that you have this large system that you are spending lots of money on.

So let me give you an example. In the old days, before we had $25 digital watches which are good to a second a day or so, you'd have to spend $1,000 for a good watch. And so in the Pentagon you would have a watch officer so to speak— somebody who would be in charge of procuring watches. And, if somebody had said, "Well, I can get you a better watch for $10 each", you'd buy a million of them a year. That person would have been demoted immediately, because the program would be so small that you would not have an officer of that level operating it. So it would have been bad. And that's what we're talking about here with additional problems, because there are problems of standardization, there are problems of the troops carrying with them the equipment that they need, or setting up a mechanism for it to be supplied rapidly on demand. And I'm going to ask General Kelley in a moment how this capability, varied capability, could be made available more widely. In the Army, the military police have been much involved in the development and are equipped with nonlethal weapons, but it's been largely limited to those elements of the Army. They're more widely spread in the Marine Corps.

At the higher levels, you know, people who have come up through the military schools, there has been very little in the curriculum and in the practice of incorporating nonlethal weapons coherently and organically in the activities of the military— except for force protection, which is a largely static activity for base protection and is a well-defined activity to go along with the forces. So we have had rapid-response teams in the theater equipped with nonlethal weapons. But in this era in which the threat is not entirely organized military on the battlefield, but it is augmented by people who are trying to preserve their lives, make some money— if there's widespread looting going on, if nobody is paying their income tax, well, it isn't a coherent, commanded activity that you should not pay your income taxes— it's just natural. And if the society is disintegrating and people are taking what exists, you can't blame people. You could do what you can to prevent it. And we need more force to do that. How do you organize so that our military forces, the cooperating coalition forces and the governments that we help to maintain or put in power, will have access to these capabilities and be able to retard the disintegration of societies, preserve the forces of order?

KELLEY: Thank you, Dick. I think we hope that the report and the interest shown by the number of people that we have here today will stimulate— and I think the best way if you are going to stimulate is to stimulate it through a poll system. That when you have the people who have the boots on the ground, who understand the capabilities that could exist or that do exist, and to talk about it— and I go back to— not to overplay this, but when I was operating with the Royal Marines in Borneo, the Royal Marines are great, because of their relatively small size, for using smoke. I went through a lot of Marine Corps schools, and I didn't have many courses— John, did you have many courses on using smoke? So I had the three-inch—

GARWIN: What about in briefings? [Laughter.]

KELLEY: People used to say my cigars used to fill the bill, but— [laughter]--I had the three-inch mortar platoon commander stay with me at all times. And as soon as the first round went off, he said, "Smoke"— because you forget. And what we need to do is imbue in the young small unit leaders the capabilities of nonlethal weapons so that they will say, What can I use in this particular set of circumstances?

Let me just give you a couple of examples of where I think nonlethal weapons could have been of tremendous importance. Let's just take the U.S.S. Cole for a moment. [The U.S.S. Cole was attacked by terrorists aboard a small, bomb-laden boat in Yemen in October 2000]. Put yourself in the dilemma of the young watch-stander standing on the deck, looking down, seeing a small boat, innocuous for all intents and purposes, approaching his ship. Coming dangerously close, he hails them, tells them to go away. They don't speak English, or he doesn't think they do. Is he going to shoot them and kill them? That's a very, very big threshold for him to get over. But what if he had a mobility denial weapon that could somehow put out a pulse that shuts down their outboard motor? I sure as hell would rather buy 1,000 outboard motors in that case than to have a ship that really had millions— hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage done to it.

Let's take another example— and this is a real-world scenario some of you will recognize. Our Marines are deployed at an airport in a foreign nation, which is friendly to the United States for all intents and purposes. Over 5,000 vehicles a day pass through their position. And early one morning a large 18-ton vehicle, which is of the nature seen quite frequently at that particular airport, passes their position and then circles in an adjacent parking lot, speeds up and passes through the guard positions at a high speed. Let me promise you that small M-16 556 rounds are not going to stop that vehicle. But, again, a mobility denial weapon that you could trigger and shut down the entire electrical system in the truck could have stopped that truck. Had we had that weapon in 1983, there would probably be 241 young Americans in Beirut who would still be alive. So those are the real-world examples that we are talking about. This is not small time. This is big time, in my opinion, and something that we really should emphasize. And that's why I'm so delighted that we have this large crowd here to get the word out. We're serious about this. This probably is one of the most important additions— I'm not saying a substitute— additions— to the military capabilities that I have seen in well over several decades.

GARWIN: Well, I'm going to— Graham, I'm going to go now to question and answer. But you might in one of your answers want to talk about top-down versus demand-pull means for incorporating nonlethal weapons into our capabilities.

Now, would you please wait for the microphone— hold up your hand to be recognized, and wait to be recognized, wait for the microphone, stand, state your name and affiliation, and keep your question and comments concise to allow as many members as possible to speak. Please?

QUESTIONER: Jeff Bialos, Johns Hopkins. I find interesting the report and its recommendations, and obviously this is an important area. On the push-pull thing, you describe setting up or augmenting the JPO in this area and having it work with JFCOM, which is the Joint Forces Command. And, of course the other people catalyzing the transformation— that's all good. But I guess I wonder, where's the pull? Because it's good to have a joint program, but the history is littered with joint programs that have died for lack of essential service owners. And I think what in a certain sense is implicit in all this is the notion that maybe what we really need to do in an operation is— the question here is how do you integrate this into operations, into training, into doctrine, across a whole bunch of forces? And I wonder if what's implicit in this is really the discussion of do we need a set of stabilization forces— forces for, essentially— because a lot of this relates to postwar— not war, not peace, low-intensity— call it what you want— low-intensity conflict. And maybe one idea here that maybe warrants some consideration, if you want to develop pull, is to set up a prototype stabilization force in one of the services that will create the kind of pull demand for this kind of thing. Because at JPO, with a couple of hundred million dollars— there are lots of JPOs with a couple of hundred million dollars that have died after a couple of years.

GARWIN: Thank you. First Graham, and then P.X., please.

ALLISON: I think Jeff points to one of the fundamental dilemmas in this development of nonlethals, because I think it is correct that we— Jim Dobbins has a good summary of our post-conflict management of situations in which, one, each time we say we are doing this only once and we will never do it again; and, two, we say, and we are not going to look at anything we ever did before, because this is sui generic. But we keep doing it over and over. And so I think perhaps in time we actually are going to have to think about how we organize more effectively for the whole set of activities that are post-conflict, reconstruction, et cetera.

In that environment, if you had a substantial force that was doing that, you would have certainly a lot more pull. I think perhaps in the meantime the joint effort— I agree with you that it's at risk— the complement of the joint seems to me to be to get, as the Marines have done from time to time, some enthusiasm among folks who are actually there on the line doing the job. So I think it's— it's been surprising to me that the Army hasn't had more of the pull side of this, given that they have evident needs for it on a daily basis. But there's lots of puzzling things about Army behavior.

QUESTIONER: Just to follow up briefly. The Army is inherently a change-resistant organization. In my tenure at the Pentagon, very difficult, which is why again I think, to me, you need a pull-side strategy to go with this.

KELLEY: I think I join with Graham. I think your question is a very valid one; I think one that we wrestled with, I think, from day one in doing this task force report. On the other hand, I think that you start the pull system by a process of education and telling people what can be done and what can be available. And once you start that, then you have to work, as we're doing tomorrow and today— Richard and I are going over to the Pentagon and we're meeting with some senior leadership to try to get them to focus on it.

I mean, I know the one controversial issue, probably, in the task force was that I believe you have to have someone on the DOD staff who is senior enough and vocal enough that he will be your spokesman, and he has the responsibility to do these things and he has the access. If you're not in the meeting room, you're going to be outside the curve. And that's about as simple as I can get it. I was there in the Pentagon when we recognized the essentiality of special operations and low-intensity conflict. And we created what? An assistant secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. I've always hated the name because they call them SOLIC. I'm not sure what that means. [Scattered laughter.] The answer to me is to get some high-level visibility. And you can do it through education. I mean, I'd be willing to go around in time and talk to war colleges to get them to put it on their curriculum. Those are the people who go back to the Pentagon. Those are the people who will be advising the decision-makers.

So the whole series— it's just a series of very, very systematic, well-organized, well-orchestrated PR campaigns to show the deficiencies and how you intend to correct them. So that may sound like that's kind of Madison Avenue or bureaucratic. Look at the hands going up on that one.

GARWIN: David.

ALLISON: We have discussed this, and what you need with the bigger development budget is to have material that can be put into theater on a trial basis. That's a mixed bag because you want to make sure that it's going to work and not get a black eye in its first engagement. That's the sort of thing we did in the first Gulf War with J-STARS [Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System], which was by no means fully developed and would have been years before it could have been put into productive use. But this radar aircraft was moved from Europe to Iraq and did great service there.

QUESTIONER: David Eisenberg with the British-American Security Information Council. First let me say my congratulations to members of the task force and the Council for doing this. I was present at the unveiling of the first report five years ago, and I'm pleased that you continued.

On page 12 of the report, it says some of the anti-material goals of non-lethal weapons may be achieved by lethal weapons capable of precision attack. I'm a little nonplussed by that. I'm wondering perhaps if there is a new set of conventional weaponry I'm unaware of, if you consider that a relatively small munition— say, a 250-pound bomb is going to have a lethal radius going out to maybe 250 meters; 2,000-pound bomb out to 350 meters. It would seem that likely consequent damage is, in fact, going to be anything but nonlethal, especially when the targets are often in the midst of general population areas where civilians are, especially in densely-populated areas— say, Baghdad— are going to be quite close by. So, I'm wondering how that squared.

And secondly, in the section on chemical weaponry, I was pleased to see you recommended affirmation of CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] and BWC [Biological Weapons Convention], but you say that the United States would not— [inaudible]--from actions that it believes would be legal under the treaties. The CWC permits, of course, as you rightly note, the use of riot-control agents, but only for domestic policing operations. And, you know, regardless of whatever one might say, I mean, Iraq was not a domestic policing operation. I'm wondering, given that, how do you justify its use in anything outside the U.S.?

GARWIN: Well, let me take those two. And Spurgeon Keeny will be next, so he should get a microphone. Put up your hand, Spurgeon.

But, first, if you go to a 250-pound bomb with concrete, its lethal radius is not very big at all, and yet it will bring down— with GPS [global positioning system] or laser guidance— it'll bring down a television tower. It will collapse a quarter of a building. It will penetrate to a conference room. And it will not have significant damage outside. Your numbers for lethal radius are too large. We have a lot of experience dropping 250-pound and 2,000-pound bombs in Baghdad, and it's amazing how one building can collapse and you may kill somebody in the neighboring building, but not all the time.

The chemical weapons discussion is a very complicated one. We spent a lot of time on it. You have to read the report carefully. It's my position that, as an occupying power, one can apply domestic law in the occupied territory. So what we can do at home here in the United States, you can do in Iraq. Now, opinions and legal judgments may differ, but we're not going to discuss it any further. We've discussed it. We've given it our best shot in the report. Spurgeon.

QUESTIONER: Spurgeon Keeny, National Academy of Sciences. I had— my first question has already been addressed, but I'll still repeat it. Did the group, without getting into the legal argument of where it can be used, have anything interesting to say about the future of non-lethal chemical agents, as you might use in Haiti or a situation like that? And more broadly, did the group come up with any major new areas of munitions of special interest, other than the motion inhibitor that's been referred to? Most of the discussion has focused on organizational questions. But were there any new challenging ideas for non-lethal types of weapons?

GARWIN: Let's have a couple more questions and then we'll align the answers.

[Audio difficulties.]

QUESTIONER: [Inaudible] I wanted to congratulate the panel on an excellent report, and particularly Dick Garwin for sticking with us and making them as valuable and pertinent to today's news. Thank you very much. I wanted to ask a little bit about the homeland security dimensions of your recommendations. It seems, Dick, in your presentation you talked about domestic applications of this. And obviously one would think that non-lethal warfare development capabilities could be a key component of our counterterrorism efforts at home. So I wonder, in terms of generating support for programs and also in terms of getting some synergies between R&D programs that might be sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and DOD, what you've all individually and what the panel as a group thought about this question.

GARWIN: You want to take that?

KELLEY: Yeah, I think, one, if you go through the report, there is one section in there that does talk about that particular problem. It's not just Homeland Security. It's really having a very comprehensive inter-agency approach to doing it. And because there's a lot of information that flows back and forth— Department of Energy has a lot of information; there are a lot of departments within the federal government. So the answer to your question is absolutely, unequivocally, yes. I believe Homeland Security will have a major, major interest in this particular program.

GARWIN: I'd like to address Spurgeon Keeny's question now, the future of non-lethal chemical agents. Those could be developed for domestic purposes as riot-control agents after they had been used for that purpose and declared to the chemical weapons treaty office, whatever it's called; I've forgotten. Then they would be available for use by occupying powers.

There's a big question what should be done here. U.N. forces, for instance, might have— if there were existing U.N. forces— might have different rules from national forces. But the real problem is that if one develops non-lethal chemicals for military uses, be developed in secret, this would free others under the chemical weapons convention to develop their own and might lead to many more and more effective lethal weapons as well. So there's a big policy problem here. And we didn't want to touch that because there are so many things that can be done on the mechanical side, on the mobility-inhibiting side, which don't infringe on any treaty limitations.

So are there silver bullets? Well, there's a kind of silver bullet, which is to extend the range of what we have. How do you deliver blunt-trauma munitions to a great distance and still control the damage that they do? Well, there are two ways. One, you can sort of pre-deploy them and have them fired from a short range. You can have precision, because people are moving, so you cannot shoot them slowly and accurately. They can home on laser spots so that, as they approach the target, even though they're going slowly, they will be accurate.

There are counters to these things. Smoke has already been mentioned. There are counters to the millimeter-wave skin-heating system, the area denial system, for instance. And so one has to keep developing these things, deploying them, seeing how effective they are. It's hard work and there are many approaches, from slippery stuff, which, if widely deployed, you might have to have a means for cleaning it up rapidly. Right now it takes 45 minutes for a troop with a tank on his or her back to spread slippery stuff over a substantial area. There's absolutely no reason why one shouldn't have a mortar round which would go out like fireworks, deploy littler rounds that would then spray, and in a few seconds the entire area targeted for slippery stuff or sticky stuff would be covered. So there are many things in delivery. Let's see. Who was next? Janet. Wait for the microphone, please.

QUESTIONER: I'd like to just address a little bit the fact that --

GARWIN: No, you have to introduce yourself.

QUESTIONER: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Janet Morris. I'm from M-2 Technologies. We've worked on non-lethal weapons for about 10 years now with various of the services. And I'd like to address the issue of are there technical challenges, and how do we meet them? We're talking about technical challenges involved with countering behavior rather than countering presence. That's a huge difference. With a lethal weapon, if they're there, you're going to kill them. We have problems with our current treaties in that the way the existing CWC treaty reads, we're allowed to kill them on the battlefield but we're not allowed to chase them away. Now, that doesn't fit with America's sense of itself in the world right now. There's a lot of difficulties in amending that treaty because the treaty was so hard to get. Nevertheless, non-lethal weapons which counter behavior cannot include chemical weapons or chemical counters, even though there's lots of interesting things in nanotechnology that could be applied to nonlethals.

There's lots of interesting areas in combative weapons that could be applied without clarifying what the intention of that treaty was. I'm not at all sure the CWC was intended to stop us from nonlethally clearing a battlefield. Similarly, there's many things we can do in directed energy, in directional acoustics. There's a lot of scientific challenges. But nonlethals are about countering behavior, and they are capability-driven requirements. So that makes a difference.

And if I have questions of the group, it would be how do we create a receptivity to capabilities-driven requirements? That's the big question, because nonlethals answer those types of requirements.

KELLEY: Excellent question.

GARWIN: Yeah, go ahead.

ALLISON: I just want to point out one more answer on the Homeland Security. Paul [inaudible] did attend our meetings and is very tuned into this and very supportive of the whole program. So we do have a very good voice on the third deck of the E-Ring [at the Pentagon].


QUESTIONER: Yes, good morning. I'm Steve Hoffman with Walker Digital. All three of you gentlemen have served in various senior levels within the government, so you have a perspective beyond your own expertise on the technical side of this question. But I want to explore more on your experienced side politically, if I could. Not everybody who can— I'm not an expert in this particular area, but your presentation seems very self-apparent to me, and yet not everyone who is in a leadership position gets up every morning and takes a stupid pill or is a prisoner of the bureaucracy. So what are the real barriers that you think are there for something— General Kelly, you talk about changes that, by your own analysis, would have saved lives. That's a very compelling message, and this is an area— how do you break through to the leadership on compelling changes— that I'm a little bit involved in, so I'm very interested in, not only your analysis, but also of Mr. Allison's and Mr. Garwin's as well.

GARWIN: Graham, do you want to try?

ALLISON: Well, I think this is one of the— for those of us who study organizational behavior and organizational change, the Pentagon is an endlessly fascinating topic, and if you look at the story of smart weapons today, or if you go even further back to the notion of submarines that carry ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] as a principal part of the forces, you find 20, 25-year lags between what is technically possible and sane and what happens. The first smart bombs were sort of Rube Goldberg operations that Dick Garwin even helped put together that had a— I think— a television camera connected to a bomb and eventually took down a bridge in Vietnam after 4,000 sorties had lost, you know, 15 or 20 planes in unsuccessfully trying to bring down this bridge. There— if you then mapped the number of dumb bombs that were dropped thereafter, whenever there was an opportunity, before smart bombs became the weapon of choice, it was, like, 99.9 percent, 99.8, 99.7. You know, it went slow. And sometimes this happens because there is no service pool, on what Jeff pointed out. Sometimes it's because it doesn't fit in the organizational imperatives of the entities as they define themselves.

There is a great parable— I won't go on too long with it— but about the carrier commander and the Air Force chief in the '50s when the subject of submarine-launched ICBMs came up as a way of getting nuclear weapons to Moscow. So currently the service chief of the carriers is trying to position carriers with airplanes that could this— that— and he's got only one competitor, which is the Air Force, which is trying to do this with bombers and then emerging missiles, which was a competition in itself. Well, the one thing they surely could agree on is that we don't need submarines performing this function. And so there was no enthusiasm whatever, at all, in the Navy for submarines for over a period of a decade, and that was forced by force-feeding, in the period of the '60s, over and over, every day, plus a kind of a monomaniacal drive in an admiral who happened to get to be in charge of the program. But that took a rare combination of circumstances, and that took 15 years before it was recognized as the preferred alternative.

GARWIN: Yeah, well, that's a very important question and provocatively phrased, and Graham is right— the Thanh Hoa Bridge in Vietnam was the first use of the laser-guided bomb. I had been involved with the Defense Communication Planning Group, and so every week, I would call up the Pentagon and ask when we were going to use laser-guided bombs. We hadn't used one. We had lost 43 aircraft in attacks on that bridge. The first use of a laser-guided bomb— two bombs were carried. There was a laser designator, a laser-guided bomb, which was very cheap. It had an add-on kit to an ordinary dumb bomb from inventory, and it did the job.

We used 25,000 laser-guided bombs in Vietnam until 1974— a little known fact— and that was the predecessor of the GPS-guided bomb, the joint direct attack division, which was the workhorse of the 2003 Iraq campaign. And there is a general reluctance, because these things don't have any traction, they aren't big enough programs, people can say maybe they won't work. Laser-guided bombs had inhibitions, because they required a clear line of sight, required somebody to designate until the bomb struck the target. The GPS-guided bomb, which was conceived in the 1960s— I ran a military aircraft panel for the president's Science Advisory Committee— took even longer, and yet on demand pull, GPS really hit the newspapers and became a system in the first Gulf War in 1991 when families would send commercial— similar GPS units to their sons in the theater, because the military was slow in building these.

So we focused on the Secretary of Defense as one of the few people who is charged with determining what's best for our capability and what— the ability to influence what goes on. If you ask— a lot of people have a full inbox, they have everything they can do to handle the mail.

KELLEY: I just wanted to tag on— if I were to define the early part of the '80s, I would define it as a period when we focused on mobility— the ability to get to war, and I think Harold Brown started that when he came into office in the late '70s when he said, "What we need— we have in-place forces in Korea, in-place forces in Europe, and what we need now is a strategic mobility force that can operate in the rest of the world," and he created a thing called the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, and I was very fortunate to be the first commander. The first task that we set out to do was to show how screwed up the country really was in trying to get to war. It's not the fighting capability of being there, it was getting there. The C-5 [transport aircraft] program was a glint in somebody's eye, the wing program and the C-141's [transport aircraft], we didn't have any, really, naval capability. The point of my story is that we concentrated on that aspect, probably at the sufferance of others. But we were in a Cold War, and so your question was quite legitimate, but we didn't have mobility denial— didn't even think about them in the Beirut period. We were thinking, really, about Cold War kinds of things and the ability to get to war.

So those are the agonies of being a service chief— trying to get a balance between what your responsibilities are and what the CINCs' [commanders in chief's] responsibilities are. You're never going to make everybody totally satisfied. You're never going to satisfy DOD, who were then telling you that X number of days of sustainability to get. If you went strictly by that, you'd be doing— buying nothing but sustainability. So those are the agonies and the trade-offs and the balances. They don't always work as well as you'd like to have them work.

GARWIN: I'll take one more question or comment from Alton Frye, and then we will close up.

QUESTIONER: I also want to say how pleased I am that this conversation is continuing. This is the third major effort under the Council's studies program to keep the discussion of nonlethal weaponry in play, and I think this is a very important and timely contribution. I'd like to ask General Kelley the next-stage question, which is a very narrow military question but of great significance. One of the major subsets of these technologies is counter-electronics in various modes, disrupting electronics, both for transport purposes and for communication purposes. We are, as you were just saying, have come to emphasize mobility as an essential part of our military capability. How confident are we, that if these technologies proliferate, we can protect our systems against electronic disruption? We can do for our transport purposes, helicopters being brought down electronically, et cetera, and so forth. Are we far enough along in understanding these technologies so that we feel we know our countermeasures would be applied?

KELLEY: The simple answer, Alton, is no. They don't know how to go much further than that, because you'd have to get into specificity of a particular system, but the answer is, to that, has always been one of our vulnerabilities. It is one that you address, but you address it on a case-by-case basis, because each situation is significantly different, but it's a very provocative question.

GARWIN: And thank you for your comments and your questions. Now take-home messages from Graham and P.X. and me.

ALLISON: There was a fellow who was an assistant director of the program of which I am the director of the center, the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard [University], Michael Nacht, who is now the dean out at, I think, Berkeley. And on one occasion, Michael said a toast— he said, "To peace. May it require further study." [Laughter.] So I think Alton has given us a question that people who are interested in nonlethals can continue to study.

KELLEY: [Laughs.] Well, I can't help a little sense of humor here, but I was thinking that, as you all recall who fought in the Vietnam War, that famous vulture sitting on the branch of the tree, looking around, and said, "Patience, my ass. I want to kill somebody." [Laughs.] So that's the message I have. We don't want to kill them, we just want to disable them.

GARWIN: Well, I, for one, I guess, am not in the role of the saint who pleaded with the Lord to make him chaste but not just yet. [Laughter.] I don't want to do nonlethal weapons studies again. [Laughter.] I want these things to be recognized as a necessary capability and for action to be taken, and I want to be out there fighting against too much nonlethal weapons. That could be a good rule for a change. We would have too much capability to intervene without killing people or without killing them unnecessarily. So I am looking for that day, and we're going to try to make it come soon. Thank you for your participation.














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