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This appendix discusses directed-energy weapons and gives an overview of
how to defend against them.  The technical characteristics of DEWs are
given in the United States Army capstone manual on directed-energy weapons
and in TB MED 524.  This new category of weaponry is different in operation
and effect from any other weapon.  There is evidence of enemy use of DEWs
in areas of conflict around the world.


Directed-energy weapons include lasers, microwave radiation emitters, and particle beam generators. These weapons produce casualties and damage equipment by depositing energy on the target. Conventional weapons rely on the kinetic/chemical energy of a sizable projectile to defeat a target. DEWs depend upon subatomic particles or electro-magnetic waves impacting on the target at or near the speed of light.

    a. In the future, DEWs will be able to damage only soft targets to include people or soft components of hard targets. Measures to prevent damage or destruction from DEWs engagement to currently fielded equipment and to soldiers are limited but are not impossible or complicated. Neither the equipment nor the soldiers' apparel have built-in passive defense mechanisms to counter the effects of DEWs. Equipment will be manufactured with built-in defenses against known DEWs, and older equipment can be refitted with protective devices.

    b. For the present, the reconnaissance platoon can employ the measures discussed in this appendix to protect themselves from attack by DEWs.


Lasers are the DEWs most likely to be used against US forces. All modern armies have increasing quantities of laser devices in their inventories. Any laser-emitting device, such as a target designator or a range finder, can be employed as a weapon if it is aimed at a type of target it can damage.

    a. The most probable targets of laser weapons are optical and electro-optical systems--specifically, fire control devices such as sights and the soldiers behind the sights.

    b. A laser beam entering a direct-view optical system, such as a telescope, has its power increased by the magnification of that system. Anyone who happens to be looking through the system will suffer burns to the eye(s). The severity of the burns, the permanence of the damage, and the time required for the eye to heal itself depend on weather conditions, the intensity of the laser, the magnification of the optical device, and the duration of the eye's exposure to the laser. Eye injury ranges from temporary flash blinding and mild burns to total, permanent blindness. A soldier subjected to this type of injury can be incapacitated and unable to aim a direct-fire weapon or track with a command-guided weapon. It is anticipated that a laser weapon will fire at a target for a split second at most before laying on another target.

    c. A laser beam entering a non-see-through electro-optical device, such as a night vision sight or thermal imagery device, deposits its energy in the form of heat on the sensor screens inside. If the heat is intense enough, it can burn out the screen, making the device useless. Some of the electrical circuits inside also burn out from the heat and from a sudden surge of electricity caused by the laser's energy. Any device so affected will require extensive repairs.

    d. Laser weapons can also be directed against people, but that is an inefficient way to employ them. Lasers burn people, with the eyes being the most susceptible to injury. For the person to suffer eye injury, they must be looking at the laser source. Since the eye is more sensitive to light at night, laser energy entering the eye during darkness has a greater effect than it does during daylight. Some types of lasers are hazardous to the eye even though the laser cannot be seen.

    e. Any uncovered glass surface (such as eyeglasses, vision blocks, or binoculars) has the potential to attract or alert an antielectro-optical weapon's target acquisition system.


Apply the following techniques to avoid detection by antielectro-optical weapon systems:

    a. Use artillery, mortars, or direct-fire weapons to suppress known or suspected antielectro-optical weapons locations. Smoke rounds are good for temporarily defeating laser devices.

    b. When operating from fixed or semi-fixed positions in the line of sight of known or suspected enemy locations, lessen the exposure of glass surfaces in the direction of the enemy by positioning vehicles and weapons in covered or concealed positions.

    c. When the mission requires maneuver and, as a result, the possible exposure of many glass surfaces, block the line of sight between friendly forces and known or suspected enemy locations with smoke, or plan routes to lessen exposure time.

    d. Sound tactics prevent friendly weapons locations from being pinpointed and targeted for attack by laser devices.

    e. Devices with external glass surfaces not in use should be shielded until the device is used. Even vision blocks and headlights can alert antielectro-optical weapon target acquisition systems; cover the vision blocks as well. Tape, canvas, empty sandbags, or other materials can be used as covers.

    f. When using optical or electro-optical devices to search for the enemy, use the minimum number possible to do the job and lessen exposure time. Protect the rest until they are required to fire.

    g. Gunners can use the AN/TAS-4 to scan for enemy laser devices. A blooming of the image indicates the presence of a laser. Gunners should be instructed to find and avoid the threat laser device. Indirect fire should be used to neutralize the devices once they are located.

    h. Tubular extensions over objective lenses lessen their chances of detection except from almost head on. They can be made from tubular ammunition packaging or other scrap materials.

    i. Low-energy, antielectro-optical weapons work only if they have line of sight to their target. They are just as effective at night as during the day; however, smoke, fog, snow, and dust degrade their effectiveness. Another good countermeasure against some laser devices is to cover one-half of the optical lens with tape or some other type of cover. There might be some degradation of viewing; however, the benefits in reducing your vulnerability could be great.

    j. Soldiers should be aware of the potential hazard from laser devices in the US Army inventory. Laser range finders are the ones most likely to be found near friendly soldiers.

    k. Laser range finders are used on the M551A1, M60A3, and M1 tanks. They are also used in the artillery units.

    • Lightweight target designator--used by artillery FISTs for airborne, ranger, and special forces units.

    • Ground-locating laser designator in either the ground-mounted or vehicle-mounted mode--used by FISTs for mechanized, infantry, and air assault units.

    • GVS-5, binocular-type laser range finder--used by all FIST members.

    • Laser designator--used by some attack helicopters to direct the Hellfire and Copperhead systems.

    • Laser devices--used by artillery survey parties for surveying in gun positions.

    • GVS-5 laser range finders--used by reconnaissance platoons.

    l. Air Force and Navy aircraft can also carry laser target designators for aiming precision-guided munitions. The F-4, F-7, F-111, F-105, F-16, and A-6 aircraft can be equipped with these designators.

    m. Operators of laser firing devices are given extensive training in their safe employment. The devices themselves cannot be activated without conscious, deliberate action on the part of the operator. While the possibility of an accident is extremely remote, it can happen. A victim might suddenly and unexpectedly move directly into the path of a laser beam and look directly at it, or a laser beam might reflect off a shiny surface and strike a victim in the eyes.

      (1) To preclude such accidents, operators of laser firing devices must be kept constantly aware of friendly soldier locations, and they must positively identify targets before lasing them. Lasers should not be fired at reflective surfaces, and the warning "lasing" should be given before activating the laser.

      (2) Conversely, commanders of soldiers operating in areas near friendly lasing must ensure that the commanders of laser-operating forces are always aware of the locations of friendly soldiers. Soldiers should be be told if there are friendly lasers in their area and should be told where the lasers are at, if possible. They should be warned not to look in the direction of laser-emitting devices unless specifically told it is safe to do so. Whenever possible, soldiers should wear laser-protective goggles matched to the wave length of the friendly lasers. Laser-protective goggles are available through normal supply channels.


Electromagnetic pulse is electromagnetic radiation that has a frequency ranging from 10 MHz to 4 GHz.

    a. Electromagnetic pulses can come from nuclear detonations (nondirected EMP), from detonation of conventional explosives coupled with focusing electromechanical devices, or from electrically powered EMP generators on or above the ground.

    b. Electromagnetic pulses can damage or destroy sensitive electronic components, such as microchips, coils, and fuses by overloading them with electrical current. Any equipment containing electronic components is subject to damage or destruction from EMP attack. FM radios are susceptible to EMP damage. The amount of damage to equipment depends on its distance from the source of the pulse.

    c. Electromagnetic pulses can be projected into target areas from long ranges. They can enter a targeted device through any opening and attack sensitive components inside even if the device is disconnected or turned off. For example, it can enter a radio set through the louvers over the cooling fans and destroy circuitry inside, making the radio useless. It can also enter through unshielded cables for antennas, power lines, and so on.

    d. An EMP attack lasts only for a split second and affects a large area. Protecting equipment from its attack is difficult. The only reliable way to do it is to encase susceptible equipment in some type of heavy gage metal shielding, or to surround it with special metal screening. Burying or covering it with sandbags or other nonmetallic materials does not provide enough protection. Terrain masking is ineffective because EMP follows the curve of the earth.

    e. When operated from combat vehicles, sensitive equipment should be disconnected if not needed and moved to the center of the vehicle. Smaller pieces of equipment should be placed in empty ammunition cans. Hatch covers should stay closed unless someone enters or exits the vehicle. By doing this, the equipment is less susceptible to destruction, and the rest is available for use after the attack.

    f. Known or suspected locations of enemy ground-based EMP-generating weapons should be attacked by direct or indirect fire weapons within range.


Commanders at all levels mentally condition their subordinates to face the threat of DEWs. DEWs appear at first glance to have devastating effects on men and equipment; effective defense against them seems nearly impossible. However, a basic understanding of what they are and how they work reveals them to be less awful than first supposed.

    a. Laser, microwave, and EMP weapons damage their targets by attacking their soft electronic components. Their terminal effects are less violent and destructive than those of conventional kinetic or chemical energy munitions. Even though they render their targets just as combat-ineffective, they do not have the blast, fire, and fragmentation effects of conventional munitions. The dangers to people are less from laser, microwave, or EMP attacks than from conventional attacks.

    b. While the thought of eye injuries from lasers is repulsive to the soldier, the extent of injury and the recovery time for a laser injury is less than that for a gunshot wound. Also, permanent blindness in the effected eye is not a certainty, and occurs in only a small percentage of incidents.

    c. The advantages of particle beam weapons (if they are used) are their flat trajectory, long range, and large magazine capacity. Other than these advantages, they are similar to conventional tank cannons in employment and effect. Whether a vehicle is struck by a HEAT round, an APDS round, or a particle beam hardly matters; the effect on the vehicle and its occupants is about the same in all cases. There is no countermeasure against a particle beam weapon system.

    d. Until equipment is factory-hardened against DEWs, the defensive techniques discussed in this appendix can provide some protection from directed-energy attack. DEWs that can injure people are line-of-sight systems; standard defensive techniques employed against any direct fire weapon provides equal or better protection against personal injury from DEWs than from conventional weapons, since DEWs have no bursting radius.


Each squad is issued one LCMS. The LCMS is designed to disrupt enemy optical and electro-optical sighting devices. The LCMS is capable of detecting, locating, suppressing, illuminating, and designating enemy optical and electro-optical devices. (Figure C-1.)

  • Detect--All optics from extended ranges.

  • Locate--Optics/electro-optical devices allowing the gunner to track and suppress.

  • Suppress--Temporarily flashblind eyes using direct-view optics, temporarily bloom image intensifiers, temporarily flashblind unprotected, unaided eyes.

  • Illuminate--At 1,000 meters, the LCMS can illuminate a 30-meter target.

  • Designate--Target area, cuing and directing fires from other weapons.

    a. The platoon leader uses the LCMS to assist in identifying targets during reconnaissance and security operations. Once targets are identified, the LCMS is used to enhance the combat power of the maneuver force by directing other direct and indirect fires to destroy targets. The target handoff must be coordinated and specified in the operation order. This ensures the LCMS is not used before the availability of hand-off assets. For example, if mortars are going to be used to destroy identified targets, the squad will not activate the LCMS until the mortars are ready to fire. If activated too early, the enemy takes measures to counter the affects desired by the mortars. The LCMS can be used in either the active or passive mode. When used in the passive mode, targets can be identified without the enemy's knowledge. In the active mode, the enemy is aware that he is being targeted.

    b. The LCMS gives the platoon the ability to detect targets at greater ranges. It should be used in conjunction with other detection devices. The mission of the platoon does not change with the addition of LCMS. The ability to provide tactical information is increased, but the platoon must use the tactical skills that places them in a position to use the LCMS. For safety, the LCMS should never be used to identify friendly forces.

Figure C-1. Laser countermeasure system.

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