Terms Used in Non-Lethal Technology & Their Definitions

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All Definitions

Term Definition
Acceptability Acceptability is subject to a range of factors including the circumstances in which the system is used, the threats encountered, and the issues associated with proportionality and legality. Historic and cultural issues also impact on what is considered acceptable. A holistic approach would involve risk and threat assessment followed by an examination of strategic, ethical, operational and societal criteria that would assist in determining acceptability of use.
Accuracy The ability to consistently deliver the less-lethal effect to the intended target (individual or multiple) within the intended operating ranges of the system and under anticipated operating conditions when correctly deployed by a trained user. In testing, a measurement of accuracy is the distance from the aimpoint to the impact point. It can also be computed as the the distance from the mean point of impact (MPI) of a number of munitions to the point of aim. It is not possible to achieve accuracy without precision.
Acoustic Hailing Devices Acoustic Hailing Devices (AHDs) are designed to project sound (warning tone and/or intelligible voice message) at distance. Their relative effectiveness is based on the frequecy reponse of the system, the sound pressure levels at distance (power), and the directivity of the system.
Acoustic Weapons Acoustic weapons have not yet overcome many of the technical challenges of wave propagation through the atmosphere. They also run the risk of being a less discriminate weapon. Science fiction portrayals include Sonic Bullets and High-intensity Sound which causes imbalance and other physiological results. They do not yet exist.
Active Denial System The Active Denial System (ADS) uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic directed energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary from relatively long range. It uses a transmitter to send a narrow beam of energy towards an identified subject. Traveling at the speed of light, the energy reaches the subject and penetrates less than 1/64 of an inch into the skin, quickly heating up the skin's surface. Within seconds, an individual feels an intense heating sensation that stops when the transmitter is shut off or when the individual moves out of the beam.
Airburst Non-Lethal Munition The Airburst Non-Lethal Munition (ANLM) is a US Army-led program. The ANLM is designed to enable a precision airburst delivery of non-lethal munitions. It is intended for use in area denial and hostile crowd scenarios and is being developed for use with several different weapons, including the MK19 and the M203.
Applicable Response Response determined appropriate for the given operational scenario.
Barrier Device designed to deny an area to personnel or vehicles.
Basis Response Generic responses that describe how targets behave as the result of the application of a weapon or technology [or tactic, or procedure] employed against them. The seven Basis Responses identified are Mobility, Communications, Physical Function, and Sense and Interpret, Group Cohesion, Motivation, and Identification.
Bean Bag A square, rectangular or circular fabric bag containing lead shot or other weighted material. The round is intended to flatten on impact, hitting face on, and spread its energy over a large area. These rounds are intended to be fired directly at an individual.
Chemical Irritants The general category of agents that includes oleoresin capsicum (OC), 2-chlorobenzal malononitrile (CS), or PAVA.
Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Describes commercially produced and available items procured for military use often through civilian contractors/vendors.
Conducted Energy Device (CED) A generic term describing the general category of electrical devices. See "Electrical Devices."
Crowd A crowd is a process not an entity. They are a gathering of individuals and small groups that have temporarily assembled. The small groups are usually comprised of friends, family members or acquaintances. Individuals do not assume a sense of anonymity in a crowd. Crowds have a begining (the assembling process), a middle (the temporary gathering), and an end(the dispersal process).
Cumulative Effects The effects of repeated use of the weapon system or munitions should not produce unintended results or preclude the use of other tactical options before or after their use.
Debilitating Degraded function to a point of inability to present a threat. Considered by degree, but only partially, or not completely, incapacitating.
Duration of the Target Effect The period after the onset time that the target should exhibit a particular response greater than some particular threshold.
Effective Normally achieves the operational (field) performance objective.
Electrical Devices Electrical devices include any weapons that use the effects of electricity to affect or incapacitate the target. There are a variety of different devices but their principle of operation is the same. They are battery powered and use a low current, high voltage impulse shock. Other terms for these devices include Conducted Energy Device (CED), Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) Device, and Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation (HEMI) Device.
Electrified Nets A net that combines entanglement and electricity to provide temporary incapacitation. When triggered, a large net is deployed which falls over the subject causing some degree of temporary incapacitation via entanglement.
Electrified Riot Shields These polycarbonate shields with electrical contacts fitted to the edges or surface can be supplied as a unit or alternatively, the electronic package can be modified to mount on other types of non-conductive riot shields.
Electro-Muscular Disruption Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) is a US law enforcement term to describe the incapacitating effect of electrical devices. See "Electrical Devices."
Electromagnetic Devices Conceptually, non-lethal electromagnetic devices could span the entire electro-magnetic spectrum. Strobe lights (visible spectrum) are examples of simple devices. More sophisticated are lasers (ultraviolet spectrum) and millimeter wave (extremely high frequency) devices.
Encapsulated Rounds These include projectiles that contain a liquid, powder or other material within a protective coating or shell; upon impact, the contents should be dispersed.
Entanglements Restraining materials or items designed to delay or stop movement of vehicles or personnel.
Environmental Factors Environmental factors (such as wind speed, temperature, visibility, etc.) drawn from a scenario or personal context, directly affect the performance of a given weapon system [or tactic, or procedure] and consequently the system's calculated measures of performance.
Fin-Stabilized Rubber Projectile A single rubber round with a finned tail to aid stability in flight. These rounds are intended to be fired directly at an individual.
Group Cohesion The ability of a group of individuals to cooperatively perform discrete functions or to operate vehicles, vessels or aircraft through the effective use of their organization, cooperation, and density.
Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation Human Electro-Muscular Incapacitation (HEMI) is a US DOD term to describe the incapacitating effect of electrical devices. See "Electrical Devices."
Immediacy Most weapons should be rapidly effective - usually immediate. Although certain scenarios may benefit from a delayed action, these are limited. Violent situations often tend to be very fast moving and threats can develop and increase very quickly. It is therefore important that the immediacy of any option is known. This information will determine its value in any given situation and enable an assessment to be made as to whether it will achieve its objective quickly enough to control a threat.
Imparted Momentum This is the measurement of force over time transferred from the munition to a subject or target (in testing, an impact plate).
Incapacitation Physical/sensory dysfunction that is temporary and of such a degree that an individual is rendered incapable of carrying out any violent physical or threatening act. There are yet unquantified levels of incapacitation.
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) is responsible within the U.S. department of Defense (DoD) for the centralized coordination and integration of NLW technologies and systems that will support the Services and Combatant Commanders.
Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWP) was established to provide warfighters a family of Non-Lethal Weapon (NLW) systems with a range of optional non-lethal capabilities across the full spectrum of threats and crises.
Kinetic Energy (KE) The energy which a body possesses by virtue of its motion. The kinetic energy of a mass m, moving with velocity v, is (1/2)mv2.
Kinetic Energy Rounds This generic category includes sponge grenades, bean bags, sock rounds and single and multiple ball rounds. Blunt impact rounds is a synonym for kintetic energy rounds.
Laser/Light Devices The effects of bright light/laser devices can range from dazzle or glare to image formation, flash-blindness and irreversible damage. These devices are considerably less effective in daylight or in the presence of strong artificial light. They are a subset of electromagnetic devices.
Less-Lethal This term has become the most commonly used within law enforcement and is applied to weapons, technologies and tactical options. Proponents of the term argue that it is more precise and recognizes that any use of force option may have unintended lethal consequences either as a direct or indirect result of their application. The following has gained widespread acceptance: The application of tactics and technologies that are less likely to result in death or serious injury than conventional firearms and/or munitions. (LLW = Less-Lethal Weapons)
Less-than-Lethal The term is intended to have a similar usage as "less-lethal." On occasions, the terms "less-lethal, less-than-lethal and nonlethal" are used interchangeably. However, "less-than-lethal" is usually a US law enforcement term, which implies, like the military term 'non-lethal', a technology or technique designed and employed to achieve effects that have a low probability of causing a fatality or serious injury.
Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC) A political-military confrontation between contending states or groups that is below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states, including rebellions and insurrections characterized by adversaries dedicated to a cause but normally lacking command and control structure and modern equipment.
Magnitude of the Target Effect The qualitative or quantitative response that the target should display once the weapon system [or tactic, technique, or procedure] has taken full effect.
Maximum Effective Range The maximum distance at which a particular weapon/device can be expected to be used within the precision and accuracy parameters set or at which the desired effect can be reliably anticipated.
Measures of Effectiveness Measures indicating the degree to which a target response satisfies a requirement within an operational context.
Measures of Performance Measures showing how environmental factors influence weapon effects at the target.
Measures of Response Measures indicating how a target reacts to a system's effects.
Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) All military actions planned and conducted on a topographical complex and its adjacent natural terrain where man-made construction is the dominant feature. It includes combat-in-cities, which is that portion of MOUT involving house-to-house and street-by-street fighting in towns and cities.
Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) Operations that encompass the use of military capabilities across the range of military operations short of war. These military actions can be applied to complement any combination of the other instruments of national power and occur before, during, and after war. They often include humanitarian or disaster assistance, noncombatant evacuation, peacekeeping and peace enforcement, and large scale crowd control in support of public safety/order objectives.
Military Police (MP) Army and Marine Corps police forces designated by specific Military Occupational Specialty.
Minimal Force Options A broader interpretation of the tactics, techniques or technologies available and intended for other-than-deadly force applications. This term is more comprehensive than the "less-lethal" term and conveys the idea that the force (tactic, technique or technology) applied will be commensurate with the threat.
Minimum Safe Range The range, short of which the application has the increased potential to cause unintended or more serious and potentially life threatening injury risk to the target. Ideally, this range should be 0 meters or at the weapon muzzle.
Mobility and Flexibility Ideally a system should be capable of being deployed against a non-static target. It should be easily transported to the scene of an incident, and ideally portable at the scene. The ease of transport, set up and deployment should be assessed. The system may or may not be able to be carried on a routine basis by a patrol officer or soldier. This determines how accessible for use it is when it is needed.
Mobility Denial System The Mobility Denial System (MDS) is a US Marine Corps-led program. The MDS, which includes both man-portable and vehicle-transportable dispensers for an anti-traction material, is well advanced in the acquisition process. MDS allows the user to dispense anti-traction material on a wide variety of surfaces, making movement extremely difficult for personnel or vehicular traffic.
Mobility Effect The ability to disrupt or control the speed and/or direction of movement of target.
Motivation Effect The ability to disrupt or control the target(s) by either restricting or enhancing their will to act in certain ways in order to achieve a goal.
Multi-Ball Rounds Also known as pellets. A single cartridge can contain from 2 to over 200 pellets, each varying in size from about 0.25 to over 0.75 inch (6-19mm). These rounds can be fired directly or skip-fired off a hard surface in front of the target. They can be used to target a number of people together and are not as discriminate as many of the other rounds.
Multi-Baton Rounds These generally consist of 3 or 5 batons in a single cartridge, generally made from rubber, wood or foam. These rounds can be fired directly or skip-fired in front of the target. As the batons spread during flight, these tend not to be as discriminate as other rounds.
Non-Lethal A term used by the military aligned to NATO, and in the United Nations' documents. Tends not to be used by law enforcement agencies. A strict interpretation of the term implies a weapon, system or technology designed with the intent of not causing serious injury or death.
Non-Lethal Anti-Material (NLAM) Weapons explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to incapacitate material and vehicles, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the environment.
Non-Lethal Capability Set The Non-Lethal Capability Sets (NLCS) are designed to support specific Service (Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force) needs. Army and Marine sets contain items such as riot gear, pepper spray, non-lethal grenades and disposable handcuffs. The components are intended to enhance a unit's capability across the range of military operations. The NLCSs augment currently fielded weapon systems, munitions and equipment.
Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Also known as 'pepper spray'. OC is made completely from organic materials and is FDA-approved for sale over-the-counter in the United States. Causes severe and immediate burning sensation to mucous membranes when sprayed into face, nose, and eyes.
Onset Time The period between the deployment of the weapon system [or tactic, technique, or procedure] and the point when the magnitude of the desired effect attains some particular threshold (ideally equal to zero).
Operational Effect The ability of the system or weapon to stop, impede or distract and produce a range of intended effects with the least probability of causing serious or life-threatening injuries.
PAVA A chemical incapacitant spray containing pelargonyl vanillylamide (Nonivamide) as the active ingredient. PAVA is the synthetic equivalent of capsaicin the active ingredient of natural pepper. It is a potent sensory stimulant. It is also used both as a food flavor (at up to 10 ppm in the diet) and in human medicine (topical application as a rubifaciant). It has been given GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) status by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a food flavor.
Physical Function The ability to disrupt or control by either restricting or enhancing the capacity of target(s) to accomplish tasks or the physical state of equipment such that it is inoperable of functions at reduced efficiency.
Physical Weapon Characteristics The intrinsic qualities of a weapon including dimensional design values associated with a weapon (weight, caliber, size, power requirement, shelf life, etc).
Portability Unless specifically designed as a crew-based system (e.g., vehicle-based water cannon), the weapon or device's ability to be operated and/or carried by one officer or soldier.
Precision This is the degree of dispersion or scatter of the munitions when aimed at the same point. Precision is a function of the distance successive impact points and the mean point of impact (MPI) of a number of munitions. A precise measurement is one that has very little scatter. A lack of precision can be attributed to inherent (systemic) errors (e.g., improper site alignment).
Relative Frequency The frequency of occurrence of a scenario relative to all operational scenarios.
Reliability Each weapon must have the highest possible level of reliability (100% is the desired objective, 98% required). Failure of the weapon to perform may have severe consequences not only for the safety of the operator but also the potential target and others in the vicinity. Reliability can be measured in a laboratory setting or as a result of training and operational data on specific weapons.
Required Outcome The required outcome (RO) considers the entire operational context of a mission or scenario. It reflects the accomplishment of multiple tasks and the satisfaction of associated constraints over time.
Required Response The response required of a chosen target for scenario success. It links a particular target engagement with a weapon or technology at a particular time in the scenario or mission. Specified in terms of values for each of the seven basis responses: desired onset time; desired magnitude of target effect; desired duration; and desired target recovery.
Restraints Devices that restrict various functions such as movement of hands or feet.
Riot A riot is judged to occur when one or more individuals within a gathering engage in violence against person or property. Most demonstrations and protests in the US and UK have not resulted in riots. The most frequent kind of riot in recent US history has been the celebration riot, primarily after athletic events.
Rules of Engagement (ROE) Directives issued by competent military authority which delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered. Also referred to as ROE.
Safety and Security The use of the weapon or munitions, and any associated equipment required, should be safe to operate and store, and should have the minimum security considerations.
Sense and Interpret The ability to disrupt or control by either restricting or enhancing the vision, smell, hearing and cognition of target(s) or the operation of artificial intelligence systems in autonomous vehicles, vessels, or aircraft.
Serious Injury That injury that requires invasive and extensive medical treatment and/or surgery and results in permanent physical damage to the individual that leads to long term loss of function.
Single Baton Rounds This class includes sponge and foam grenades and other rubber or plastic batons that are present as a single round per cartridge. This class also includes the current UK baton round, the L21A1. These rounds are intended to be fired directly at an individual.
Single Flexible Ball Round This consists of a single ball (generally rubber or plastic) of various sizes, which may deform on impact to spread the energy over a larger area. These rounds are intended to be fired directly at an individual.
Sock Round A modification of the bean bag, designed to have no edges or corners which could lead to penetration, and tending to have a ?tail? to aid stabilization in flight. These rounds are intended to be fired directly at an Individual.
Sticky Shocker The Sticky Shocker was designed to extend the range for electrically stunning a person. It is a combination of an impact device and an electrical device.
Stun Batons Stun batons are like standard police batons with an added electrical component. The batons generally have probes attached to the front end; when the probes are touched against a person, the trigger is pulled to deliver a shock. Some versions also have metal bands running part-way along or up the entire length of the baton. In these cases, if a person grabs the baton along its length, they will receive a shock.
Stun Guns Many people may be familiar with the concept and appearance of stun guns. They are hand-held units generally ranging in size from 4 inches to nearly 9 inches in length and weighing between 8 and 12 ounces, including the batteries. The probes or electrodes that deliver the electricity are permanently connected to the unit. These probes are not generally designed to penetrate the skin of the target, but are intended to be held close up to the body to allow the flow of charge.
Subject Population The portion or proportion of the population taking account of both permanent and transitory differences/characteristics (e.g., demographics, intoxication, pre-existing medical conditions, mental state, etc) that is targeted.
Target Recovery The period when the target response falls below a particular threshold and a full recovery of unimpaired functionality is desired in an operationally meaningful context (ideally full recovery immediately at the end of the desired duration).
Vehicle Lightweight Arresting Device The Vehicle Lightweight Arresting Device (VLAD) is a pre-emplaced net, that is man-portable and equipped with a unique barbed spike system that stops cars and trucks traveling at high rates of speed. The counter-material device offers significant improvement in warfighter protection capability by providing an easily transportable, quickly emplaced, wheeled vehicle stopping system capable of stopping several different classes of vehicles. Non-lethal systems such as the VLAD offer our warfighters greater flexibility and options on today?s complex battlefields.
Water Cannon Water cannons project a continuous stream of water to deter aggressive individuals and crowds. Many countries currently employ the water cannon and others are exploring the utility of these and portable water cannons.
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