The first of the Brigade Non-Lethal Capability Sets (NLCS) is now fielded to the Army’s 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT), 3rd Infantry Div., Ft. Stewart, Ga.
The sets, a mix of counter-personnel and counter-materiel systems, protective equipment and enhancement devices, are designed to give brigade soldiers and commanders non-lethal capabilities so they can respond to situations and determine what’s going on without immediately resorting to lethal force.
"Non-lethal options allow soldiers to react with an appropriate level of force based on the situation, prior to resorting to lethal force," Maj. Thomas Aarsen, NLCS project officer, said Aug. 4 in a statement.
The sets were developed by engineers in the office of the Program Manager for Close Combat Systems at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
1st HBCT soldiers were trained on the equipment July 22-July 25. Representatives from the Army Military Police School, Non-lethal Scalable Effects Center, Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., traveled to Ft. Stewart to instruct soldiers on the technical performance of the equipment. Soldiers then could incorporate the technology into their tactics, techniques and procedures, Jeff Teats, NLCS technical trainer, said in the Aug. 4 statement from Picatinny Arsenal.
Aarsen said the sets are composed of four types of modules for mission-specific tasks, and one taser sub-module the brigade commander would distribute based on mission requirements.
The NLCS kits are packaged in large weatherproof containers that are easily transported to mission sites and include product instructions.
The four modules include: the checkpoint module, crowd control and detainee ops module, convoy module, and dismounted module that includes various non-lethal items troops can use during dismounted patrols.
Checkpoint modules have non-lethal equipment to establish and operate hasty and deliberate checkpoints. Counter-material devices including tire spikes–known as caltrops– Vehicle Lightweight Arresting Devices and the Picatinny-designed portable vehicle-arresting barriers–capture nets that can stop errant vehicles. All are used to deny vehicles access to critical facilities at roadblocks and checkpoints.
Staff Sgt. Jesse Lujan with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Armor Regiment said that during a previous tour in Iraq, his unit used caltrops as another line of defense to stop vehicles from entering the base.
"It channels the air out the tires to slow (the car) down, so they wouldn’t have enough speed to make it through the gate," he said.
The checkpoint modules also have mirrors, lights and traffic cones to assist soldiers inspecting vehicles.
Crowd control and detainee operations modules provide non-lethal protective equipment for platoon-size elements when conducting crowd control or detainee missions.
The module includes such things as face shields, shin guards, batons and restraint devices.
Convoy modules provide non-lethal equipment to support and equip vehicles. The sets are equipped with high-intensity lights and voice amplification devices that focus sound out to 500 feet.
The troops said security forces for crowd control could use the voice amplification devices.
"The speakers are good and clear and can definitely be used in Iraq," said Sgt. Maria Martinez, Alpha Company, 3rd Brigade Support Company.
The dismounted modules provide non-lethal equipment to support platoon-sized elements in an urban environment or when conducting dismounted operations.
Some elements of this module include high-intensity lights and Phraselators that translate simple English commands into Arabic when translators are not available.
Lujan, who has completed two tours in Iraq, said the Phraselator would be a welcome product. ""There were times when you would try to go through a house and they don’t understand you and you don’t understand their response."
As a complement to the NLCS, additional training was conducted on non-lethal munitions for the 12-gauge shotgun and the 40mm grenade launcher. Although the munitions are not issued with the set, they were trained as part of the non-lethal capabilities available within the Army.
These items permit commanders to apply military force in crowd and riot control conditions while reducing the risks to noncombatants and soldiers.
The sets will be fielded to Brigade Combat Teams, Military Police Brigades and Maneuver Enhancement Brigades, said NLCS lead engineer Linda Chico.
While this was the first brigade fielding, smaller non-lethal sets were fielded to various battalions in 2000 and platoons in 2005, she said. The initial battalion and platoon kits were shipped to selected units in Iraq and Afghanistan in response to an urgent requirement request from field commanders.
Chico said the Brigade NLCS includes items not found in the previous sets, such as tasers, Phraselators, Vehicle Lightweight Arresting Devices and Ex-Spray, which allows soldiers to detect explosive residue.