For a while, now, I've been hearing about the Defense Department's plans to outfit a fighting vehicle with a pain ray, a sonic blaster, and a laser dazzler, too. I never figured they'd actually send the thing to Iraq, though. Project Sheriff, I assumed, would just be the military equivalent of a concept car -- a chance to see if some whiz-bang gear really worked together.But the Pentagon may wind up deploying this straight-outta-sci-fi jalopy, after all. The Army just got the OK to spend $31.3 million on three deployable Project Sheriff vehicles, Inside Defense is reporting.Right now, a "non-deployable Spiral 0 prototype" [Sheriff] is "undergoing environmental testing," according to the newsletter -- and waiting for one of the armed services to adopt the program as its own. That looks like it's happened, now. The "Spiral 1" Sheriff will equip either a Stryker fighting vehicle or a Cougar mine-fighter with the dazzler, the blaster, and the like. Oh, and it'll still have guns, too.
By combining the lethal and nonlethal technologies on a vehicle, [Marine Corps Col. Wade] Hall said a warfighter would be able to discriminate the noncombatants from insurgents by first employing the nonlethal capabilities and then progressing to the use of lethal force.For example, if a convoy led by a Project Sheriff vehicle was moving through an urban area, a crowd may form to divert the convoy into an ambush zone, according to Hall.If this were to happen, the first thing the crowd would hear is the Long Range Acoustic Device either telling the crowd to move or giving off a noise that would bother their hearing. Next, the Lazzer Dazzler would scan the crowd looking for a flicker from the scope of a possible sniper.If the crowd was still in place, troops would employ the active denial technology [AKA the pain ray].If they try and deflect beams then we will kill them because we know what their intentions are, Hall said. Now I know what your intent is. I just told you to move, I just flashed some light in you that said hey get away from me. I just put some effect on you that said please move or its going to get worse and you continue to tell me that you have an ill intent for me and my fellow Marines. So now I will bring some lethal force to bear if it satisfies my [rules of engagement].In an April 7, 2005, memo, Army Brig. Gen. James Huggings, the chief of staff for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approve funding for the time critical material release, fielding and sustainment of the Full-Spectrum Effects Weapon Systems, the technical name for Project Sheriff vehicles.This will allow operating forces to exploit the psychological dilemma of adversaries who are faced with advanced precision capabilities having multiple effects mechanism that are collectively more challenging to protect against, Huggins wrote. This will serve to transfer the difficulties of operational complexity to the enemy, helping to allow MNC-I forces to regain the initiative in fourth generation warfare.Huggins proposes the Army receive eight vehicles -- four for the 18th Military Police Brigade and four for the 42nd Military Police Brigade -- and the Marines receive six.In an April 19, 2005, response to Huggins, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Castellaw, chief of staff for U.S. Central Command, said the request for 14 Project Sheriff vehicles was fully supported by CENTCOM.