Deploying Soldiers preview Picatinny nonlethal weapons
Staff Sgt. Javier Garcia (center) falls forward after being shot with a Taser by nonlethal subject matter expert Troy McVay (background, right). Javier is flanked by Staff Sgt. Evan Lally (left) and Sgt. Craig Strohl.

FORT DIX, N.J. -- Soldiers of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team will have available some of the latest Picatinny-developed nonlethal capabilities to man checkpoints and conduct detainee operations during their upcoming deployment to Iraq.

Roughly $1 million in new equipment, fielded to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard brigade earlier this month during training at Fort Dix, will not only be used in Iraq, but will return with the brigade.

The brigade is the first Guard unit to be fielded the entire Brigade Nonlethal Capabilities Set, an official said.

The 56th SBCT Soldiers participated in four days of training in the use of the set, developed largely by the Picatinny combat developers of the Army nonlethal team. The set is composed of four mission-specific modules, for checkpoint, convoy, crowd control and detainee operations and dismounted patrolling missions.

Soldiers learned about nets that can stop oncoming vehicles and snake-like cameras that Aca,!A"lookAca,!A? into hard-to-see places, sending video to a display screen mounted on the userAca,!a,,cs wrist.

Aca,!A"This is a train-the-trainer course,Aca,!A? said Capt. Curtis Drake, the 56thAca,!a,,cs brigade engineer who served as range and facility officer for the training.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs definitely real self-explanatory training. ItAca,!a,,cs new equipment weAca,!a,,cve never worked with before,Aca,!A? Drake said. Aca,!A"Now these Soldiers will take this knowledge back to their units.Aca,!A?

Drake said he is especially impressed with a portable net and spike system designed to wrap around the axle of a speeding vehicle, stopping it before it can speed through a checkpoint. The checkpoint-equipment system allows for the normal flow of traffic. Nonlethal systems included in the set range from simple, commercially available items such as bean bag rounds and pepper spray to a high-tech speech translator. Nonlethal systems have been credited with reducing the use of lethal force and reducing collateral damage.

Eric Niver, a trainer from the Army Nonlethal Scalable Effects Center based at the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., said the Army began fielding the equipment packages during the summer under a plan that allows units to put the equipment on their property books, as opposed to having use of the equipment only while deployed.

Niver said having ownership of the equipment will allow the Pennsylvania Guard unit to train on it during weekend drills or annual training periods in the future. The Effects Center develops training programs on the use of nonlethal systems.

Aca,!A"There are a lot of working parts,Aca,!A? Niver said of the training specialists, many of them retired from military service, who work with firms contracted to conduct the on-site training.

Soldiers practiced firing the electric Taser gun. Volunteer students were shot by an instructor with the so-called Aca,!A"stun gunAca,!A? as part of an exercise designed to demonstrate that people hit by the device are briefly incapacitated but quickly recover.

Aca,!A"This interferes with neuromuscular impulses,Aca,!A? said Tom Martens, technical trainer with Concurrent. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs more disorienting than anything. It allows Soldiers to safely subdue an individual and take that person into custody.Aca,!A?

Martens said recovery time is typically less than a minute.

Jeff Teats, an Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center training specialist with Munitions and New Equipment Training, known as MNET, said that up to 50 percent of students typically volunteers to be Aca,!A"Tased.Aca,!A?

The Pennsylvania Guard Soldiers brought their civilian experience to the training. Aca,!A"They did very well. Obviously we have a lot of experience here, a lot of senior (noncommissioned officers) and a lot of law enforcement guys on the civilian side, so theyAca,!a,,cre familiar with shotguns and other weapon systems,Aca,!A? said David Fadl, one of the nonlethal instructors.

Other objects in the nonlethal system set include acoustic hailing devices, portable light sets and riot-control equipment. Soldiers practiced on the firing range with nonlethal rounds fired from shotguns and grenade launchers.

Aca,!A"There are two types of round. OneAca,!a,,cs a point round, meaning itAca,!a,,cs a nonlethal round for an individual, the other is a crowd-dispersal round,Aca,!A? Fadl said. Aca,!A"The crowd-dispersal round is almost like birdshot (small metal shot), but using rubber balls.Aca,!A?

Staff Sgt. Javier Garcia, Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron 104th Cavalry Division of Mount Pocono, Pa., said that going into the training he knew what a Taser was, but was not familiar with other nonlethal systems.

Aca,!A"There are a lot of instances in which we could use this equipment over there,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs one more method we could use before having to use lethal force.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs definitely going to save lives. We definitely need this kind of equipment on our bases,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"This gives you another opportunity; itAca,!a,,cs the second to the last, lethal resort.Aca,!A?

Soldiers completing the training are provided with a memo denoting their completion of the course.

About 4,000 56th SBCT Soldiers are slated to deploy to Iraq in February. These Soldiers will be able to provide success and failure stories back to engineers here at Picatinny to aide in the continuous effort of helping the future warfighter achieve his or her mission.

Page last updated Thu January 29th, 2009 at 10:58