In the last several years, especially since September 11th, 2001, there has been increasing evidence in both the military and law enforcement actions throughout the U.S. and in operations overseas that non-lethal weapons and technology can have a positive impact on mission success. While our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines find themselves more often than not in urban environments dealing with growing numbers of noncombatants and engaged with operations other than war, there is a clear and developing need for additional tools to expand the options available to commanders between doing nothing and letting a situation spin out of control and the application of deadly force as a last resort. Non-lethal weapons necessary to deal with aggressively hostile individuals or control crowds that are bent on disrupting public order and threatening public safety have gradually evolved from the rubber bullets and tear gas of years past to more technologically advanced concepts that employ new forms of directed and kinetic energy systems.
Penn State University has been at the cutting edge of this emerging capability providing research and development support, as well as training and educational services to our joint forces. The Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies at Penn State has tackled tough technical and educational issues and has supplied the Department of Defense with both independent technology assessments, prototype development, extensive testing and evaluation, and new educational/informational products to assist in raising the visibility, awareness and understanding of this new field of military technology. The need and value of this work continues to improve the effective employment of non-lethal weapons in our active forces, and will undoubtedly support the long-term requirements for peace and stability in Iraq, Afghanistan and other operational venues around the Globe.