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APPENDIX L

Directed-Energy Weapons

While conventional weapons rely on either the kinetic or chemical energy of a sizable projectile to cause casualties and target damage, directed-energy weapons produce these effects by depositing energy on the target. This appendix provides the company team commander and subordinate leaders with an overview of directed-energy weapons and how to defend against them.

CONTENTS

Section 1 Characteristics of Directed-Energy Weapons
Lasers
Microwave Radiation Emitters
Particle Beam Weapons
Section 2 Defense Against Directed-Energy Weapons
Lasers
Microwave Radiation Emitters
Section 3 Attack Reporting
Section 4 Laser Mission-Oriented Protective Posture

SECTION 1 - CHARACTERISTICS OF
DIRECTED-ENERGY WEAPONS

Directed-energy weapons destroy targets by bombarding them with either subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves at or near the speed of sound. These weapons include lasers, particle beam generators, and microwave radiation emitters. Currently, directed-energy weapons are only capable of damaging soft targets, including personnel, or the soft components of hard targets, such as optical components or communications equipment.

LASERS

As the role of laser devices continues to grow on the modern battlefield, it becomes increasing clear that any laser-emitting device, such as a target designator or a range finder, has the potential to be used as a weapon. The most probable targets for such systems will be optical and electro-optical systems, such as sights and vision viewers, and the personnel operating those sights and viewers.

Any laser beam entering a direct-view optical system (a tank or BFV sight, for example) has its power increased by the magnification of the system. Soldiers using the sight could suffer burns to their eyes; injuries may range from temporary flash blinding and mild burns to total, permanent blindness. The severity of such injuries, the permanence of the damage, and the time required to heal depend on a variety of factors:

  • Weather conditions.
  • Intensity of the laser.
  • Frequency of the laser.
  • Range to the laser source.
  • Magnification of the optical device.
  • Duration of exposure to the laser.

A laser beam entering a nonsee-through electro-optical device, such as a thermal imagery device, can cause damage either through the effects of intense heat on the device's sensor screens or by the sudden surge of electricity produced by the laser's energy.

MICROWAVE RADIATION EMITTERS

High-intensity microwaves can severely damage or destroy electronic components such as microchips; they do this by overloading the components with electrical current. Soldiers may suffer the following symptoms from long-term exposure to high-intensity microwaves:

  • Pain.
  • Erratic heartbeat.
  • Fatigue, weakness, or dizziness.
  • Nose bleeds.
  • Headaches.
  • Disorientation.

PARTICLE BEAM WEAPONS

Particle beam weapons use a directed flow of atomic or subatomic particles to cause target damage. These highly energetic particles, when concentrated into a beam, can melt or fracture target material and generate X rays around the point of impact.

SECTION 2 - DEFENSE AGAINST
DIRECTED-ENERGY WEAPONS

Without accurate information on the nature and capabilities of directed-energy weapons, soldiers are likely to develop a number of misconceptions. For example, it may appear that these weapons wreak devastating effects on personnel and equipment and that defense against them is nearly impossible. Leaders must counter these false assumptions by directly confronting their soldiers' fears. They should take these steps:

  • Provide soldiers with a basic understanding of how directed-energy weapons work.
  • Cover the specific defensive procedures outlined in this section.
  • Reinforce the knowledge that directed-energy injuries, while potentially serious and worthy of concern, are both rare and preventable.

LASERS

The best defense against lasers incorporates the following techniques:

  • Use laser-safe goggles and optic filters.
  • Use night vision viewers or thermal viewers when scanning areas in which lasers are likely to be employed.
  • Use smoke rounds to temporarily defeat laser devices.
  • Use sound tactics to prevent being pinpointed for attack by lasers.

MICROWAVE RADIATION EMITTERS

Effective defense against microwave radiation emitters entails using the following techniques:

  • Disconnect all electronic equipment when not in use.
  • Shield smaller electronic items by placing them in empty ammunition cans.
  • Employ terrain masking, which provides some protection against microwave radiation.
  • Limit the time personnel are exposed to microwave emissions.

NOTE: The defensive measures outlined in this section for lasers and microwave radiation are also effective in protecting personnel and equipment from the effects of particle beam weapons.

SECTION 3 - ATTACK REPORTING

All attacks from directed-energy weapons should be reported. Reporting procedures are similar to those for NBC attacks. Tables L-1 and L-2 summarize reports for laser attacks on the battlefield; these reports use the established formats for the NBC-1 report (observer's initial attack) and the NBC-3 report (immediate warning of expected contamination/laser usage). (NOTE: The report formats also reflect the addition of a laser reporting column to GTA 3-6-3.)

Table L-1. Format for laser attack report (based on NBC-1,
observer's initial report).

LINE

DESCRIPTION

B

Position of observer

C

Direction of attack from observer

D

Date-time group for detonation/attack

F

Location of area attacked

G

Means of delivery (state what weapon system, if known, delivered the laser)

ZC

Area or point from which laser was delivered (if known)

Table L-2. Format for laser attack report (based on NBC-3,
immediate warning of expected contamination/laser usage).

LINE

DESCRIPTION

A

Strike serial number

D

Date-time group for start of attack

F

Location of probable area of attack

SECTION 4 - LASER MISSION-ORIENTED PROTECTIVE POSTURE

The laser MOPP (L-MOPP) levels outlined in Table L-3 are based on enemy activity and the known use of lasers in the company team's area of operations.

Table L-3. Laser mission-oriented protective posture levels.

L-MOPP LEVEL

LASER USE

PROTECTIVE ACTIVITY

L-0
(zero)

No known laser technology.
OR
No known use in area of operations.
OR
Use of laser technology highly unlikely.

Laser-protective eyewear properly prepared and in close proximity.

L-1

Threat possesses laser technology.
OR
Laser-capable delivery systems spotted in area of operations.
OR
Use of laser technology possible.

Laser-protective eyewear ready for use and carried on person.

L-2

Use of threat/friendly lasers reported in area of operations.
OR
NBC/laser reporting system in effect.
OR
Use of laser technology probable or highly likely.

Laser-protective eyewear worn at all times.

 



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