CW Makes a Comeback

Cheers to Sharon Weinberger at Wired’s Danger Room for unearthing the air force’s not-so-secret-anymore interest in reviving non-lethal chemical weapons for the Global War on Terror.

However, after reading the text of the report, I don’t see that there’s much to be alarmed about. Here’s the paragraph that describes the extent of what’s really being proposed:

"Chemical irritants such as CS or pepper spray, traditionally used in situations requiring crowd control, may be replaced by new developments in calmative agents. New adhesives (sticky foams) may be used to stop foot-traffic access to protected locations. Infrared dye markers may be used for clandestine tracking of individuals. Metal embrittlement, polymer agents, and super caustics may be used against equipment and materials for area denial. Malodorants may be used to clear structures or tunnels in lieu of CS."

The real concern about CW is not the effects of the weapons themselves. I would argue that shredding a man’s guts with shrapnel is no more humane than suffocating him to death with chlorine. The problem with using CW is that it may encourage other actors to stockpile and and employ CW as well.

The paper included a foreward signed by Lieutenant General Bob Elder, who was then commandant of the Air War College. Elder is now the commander of Air Force Strategic Command (Hmmm…).


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