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"It is completely clear that the state which is first to create
such weapons will achieve incomparable superiority."
-- Major I. Chernishev, Russian Army (1)
The human body, much like a computer, contains myriad data processors.
They include, but are not limited to, the chemical-electrical activity of the brain, heart, and peripheral nervous system, the signals sent from the cortex region of the brain to other parts of our body, the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that process auditory signals, and the light-sensitive retina and cornea of the eye that process visual activity. (2) We are on the threshold of an era in which these data processors of the human body may be manipulated or debilitated.
Examples of unplanned attacks on the body's data-processing capability are well-documented. Strobe lights have been known to cause epileptic seizures. Not long ago in Japan, children watching television cartoons were subjected to pulsating lights that caused siezures in some and made others very sick.
Defending friendly and targetting adversary data-processing capabilities of the body appears to be an area of weakness in the US approach to information warfare theory, a theory oriented heavily toward systems data-processing and designed to attain information dominance on the battlefield. Or so it would appear from information in the open, unclassified press. This US shortcoming may be a serious one, since the capabilities to alter the data processing systems of the body already exist.
A recent edition of US News and World Report (July 7, 1997) highlighted several of these "wonder weapons" (acoustics, microwave, lasers) and noted that scientists are "searching the electromagnetic and sonic spectrums for wavelengths that can affect human behaviour".(3)
A recent Russian military article offered a slightly different slant to the problem, declaring that "humanity stands on the brink of a psychotronic war", with the mind and body as the focus. That article discussed Russian and international attempts to control the psycho-physical condition of man and his decision making processes by the use of VHF-generators, "noiseless cassettes" and other technologies.
An entirely new arsenal of weapons, based on devices designed to introduce subliminal messages or to alter the body's psychological and data processing capabilities, might be used to incapacitate individuals. These weapons aim to control or alter the psyche, or to attack the various sensory and data processing systems of the human organism. In both cases, the goal is to confuse or destroy the signals that normally keep the body in equilibrium.
This article examines energy-based weapons, psychotronic weapons, and other developments designed to alter the ability of the human body to process stimuli. One consequence of this assessment is that the way we commonly use the term "information warfare" falls short when the individual soldier, not his equipment, becomes the target of attack.
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With modification these technological applications [as outlined in the US News and World Report "Wonder Weapons" article, July 7, 1997] can have many uses. Acoustic weapons for example could be adapted for use as acoustic rifles or as acoustic fields that, once established, might protect facilities, assist in hostage rescues, control riots, or clear paths for convoys. These waves, which can penetrate buildings, offer a host of opportunities for military and law enforcement officials. Microwave weapons, by stimulating the peripheral nervous system, can heat up the body, induce epileptic-like seizures, or cause cardiac arrest. Low frequency radiation affects the electrical activity of the brain and can cause flu-like symptoms and nausea. Other projects sought to induce or prevent sleep, or to affect the signal from the motor cortex portion of the brain overriding voluntary muscle movements. The latter are referred to as pulse wave weapons, and the Russian government has reportedly bought 100,000 copies of the "Black Widow" version of them.
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