Air Force wants to test weapons on US civilians


Richard Moore

Original source URL:,1,4148740.story?coll=sns-ap-politics-headlines

Official Touts Nonlethal Weapons for Use
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
2:46 PM PDT, September 12, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be 
used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on 
the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international 
community over any possible safety concerns, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should
not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I 
hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a 
way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has funded research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the 
service isn't likely to spend more money on development until injury issues are 
reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. 
Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be 
effective in disabling some electronic devices.

On another subject, Wynne said he expects to pick a new contractor for the next 
generation of aerial refueling tankers by next summer. He said a draft request 
for bids will be put out next month, and there are two qualified bidders: The 
Boeing Co. and a team of Northrop Grumman Corp. and European Aeronautic Defence 
and Space Co., the majority owner of European jet maker Airbus SAS.

The contract is expected to be worth at least $20 billion.

Chicago-based Boeing lost the tanker deal in 2004 amid revelations that it had 
hired a top Air Force acquisitions official who had given the company 
preferential treatment.

Wynne also said the Air Force, which is already chopping 40,000 active duty, 
civilian and reserves jobs, is now struggling to find new ways to slash about 
$1.8 billion from its budget to cover costs from the latest round of base 

He said he can't cut more people, and it would not be wise to take funding from 
military programs that are needed to protect the country. But, he said he also 
encounters resistance when he tries to save money on operations and maintenance 
by retiring aging aircraft.

"We're finding out that those are, unfortunately, prized possessions of some 
congressional districts," said Wynne, adding that the Air Force will have to 
"take some appetite suppressant pills." He said he has asked employees to look 
for efficiencies in their offices.

The base closings initially were expected to create savings by reducing Air 
Force infrastructure by 24 percent.

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