5 Nonviolent But Still Devastating Military Tactics
The words “nonlethal” and “war” seem to be at odds from the very get-go. Any idea about the general value of life is something you’ve pretty much got to shelve away if you’re going to be of any use on the battlefield. Something the military is more than happy to help with, at least until you’re done fighting and have returned to civilian life with crippling PTSD. Don’t worry, the NFL will wear camo uniforms a couple times a year for you!
Still, there have been times when the military have looked to develop nonlethal war tactics and weapons. Again, it’s hard to imagine any of this being out of the goodness of their hearts, and more likely just because they’re not allowed to use napalm anymore. It mostly feels like a work-around that lets them indiscriminately target large groups of people while avoiding an appointment at the Hague. That said, they have come up with some pretty wacky tech meant to neutralize the enemy without quite as much blood and guts.
Here are five nonlethal but devastating wartime tactics that some non-quite-sadist cooked up…
Brown Noise Experiments
It’s not so often that the military and the 12-year-olds of the world have an intense shared interest in one piece of tech. In the case of the famous “brown note,” however, the roads of human incapacitation and poop jokes met in a gloriously terrifying way. If you’ve never heard any variety of the urban legends attributed to it, the “brown note” is supposedly a particular frequency that makes anyone who hears it immediately and uncontrollably shit their britches.
It’s unsurprisingly made its way into popular culture, being featured on South Park and MythBusters, but there’s no truth to the existence of the actual frequency, despite some military interest. They do indeed use a variety of highly unpleasant acoustic weapons, though, and they have made at least one piece of tech that did make people almost poop themselves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the enemy. A prototype airplane from 1956 nicknamed the “Thunderscreech” was the loudest plane ever built, and supersonic shockwaves sent out by its propellers reportedly did cause “loosening of the bowels.”
Making someone puke, on the other hand, has presented itself as very viable in the field of weaponized bodily fluid research. You’d have to imagine it would be highly effective, not only as a morale-breaker, but with violent ralphing making it incredibly hard to aim anything. Good luck getting a bead on opposing forces when you’re firing your MREs back out the in-chute.
A company named Laser Energetics debuted something they called the Dazer Laser all the way back in 2009, which was an LED laser that, when shone into a target’s eyes, would cause issues with balance and a large dose of futuristic nausea. The public sector has done plenty of research on puke rays themselves, with the Department of Homeland Security and the Navy both exploring an aimable version of a New Year’s Day trip to the toilet.
Sticky Foam Gun
It seems like some weapon designer was either reading a lot of Spider-Man or playing a lot of Prey when he came up with a nonlethal weapon designed to incapacitate people via an unwelcome spray of sticky foam. The weapon, which unfortunately never made it to a Jackass movie, fires a liquid out of a Ghostbusters-style backpack that expands by 3,000 percent when exposed to air, making motion pretty impossible for anything it hits. Unlike some other weapons on this list, the sticky foam gun made it past the testing phase, and was deployed to troops in Somalia. It was never used on people, however, because of some big-time complications connected with actually getting pelted with the stuff.
For one thing, it took literal hours to clean up. It also had two more predictable downsides, one grimmer than the other. The first was that once somebody was good and gummed up, it was hard to move them anywhere else, e.g., for interrogation. The second was that if you caught a faceful of the goo, there was a high chance of asphyxiation, due to all of your head’s most important holes being immediately plugged up.
Makes you wonder how many people your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man accidentally suffocated.
The Bomb That Makes You Gay
Speaking of ideas that sound straight out of a comic book from the 1960s is the famous “gay bomb.” Even more embarrassingly, this one was genuinely pursued by the military only two decades ago, in 1994. It’s an elevator pitch as straightforward as it is ridiculous: Enemy troops wouldn’t be able to mount an effective defense if they were too busy sucking and fucking each other into oblivion.
The Defense Department proposed a chemical bomb that would contain some sort of (imaginary) pheromones that would turn enemy forces gay, combined with an aphrodisiac that would suddenly make them incapable of considering anything other than polishing each other’s rifles. What was Plan B, dusting the battlefield with molly and blasting the Isley Brothers out of the top of a tank?
Macho Mental Warfare
Walking into oncoming gunfire isn’t exactly a choice made by anybody’s lizard brain. That’s why keeping up the morale/brainwashing of those fighting for you is paramount to success on the battlefield. Mental warfare has won many battles in history, through the terrifying destructive power of war elephants to the spine-chilling reputations held by groups like the Viking berserkers.
One CIA operative in the 1950s had a particular plan to break the Soviet populace’s conviction, through male insecurity. They proposed that huge condoms be rained down on the Soviets from above, but when examined, they would be marked “small.” The assumption, I suppose, being that instead of asking “why is it raining condoms,” they would instead be rendered gibbering, cowardly messes when presented with their downstairs mediocrity versus these hypothetical huge-hogged Yankee soldiers.
Sounds like the real warfare was going on in that guy’s head.