An estimated 174,000 civilians have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Who knows how many of these casualties could have been prevented if the United States and its allies were using deadly weapons, especially in dense urban areas. So it's great news that the Pentagon has developed a non-lethal mortar round.
These new 81mm mortar rounds recently underwent their first working demonstration in Quantico, Virginia. The weapons are dangerous, but they're specifically designed not to be deadly. Each round carries 14 flash bang grenades that stuns, blinds, and deafens the enemy upon impact. In many cases, simply disorienting the enemy for a while is all it takes for soldiers to complete their mission. Ryan Faith at Vice News explains the objective well:
The basic point of engaging in a conflict is to use force, or the threat of force, to change someone's behaviour — there's nowhere in the rules where it says you have to end up with people actually getting maimed or killed. But because of the vagaries of human nature and psychology, killing the other guy has generally been perceived as the most surefire way to get the job done.
Again, these mortars aren't entirely harmless. A well placed flash grenade can maim or kill an insurgent or an unsuspecting civilian. But a real grenades, bombs, and bullets does a much better job at taking lives.
The new non-lethal mortar joins gadgets like "pain rays" in a growing family of weapons in the Pentagon's arsenal that aren't designed for deadly force. The military even has a whole book about these weapons. Now if only we could figure out how to stop starting wars… [Vice News]