The Nonlethal Weapons Revolution That Wasn’t

The U.S. military's Active Denial System, a non-lethal ray gun, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Jan. 24, 2007 (AP photo by Elliott Minor).
The U.S. military's Active Denial System, a non-lethal ray gun, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Jan. 24, 2007 (AP photo by Elliott Minor).
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Conventional militaries normally avoid fighting in cities, instead seeking open ground where generals can see what is happening and control their forces as much as possible. Certainly there have been large urban battles like Stalingrad, Manila and Berlin during World War II, but they were the exception rather than the rule, an act of desperation by a commander with no other options. Militias and insurgents, though, see things differently. Usually weaker than state security forces, they often choose to fight, as British Gen. Rupert Smith put it, “amongst the people,” in the hope that state security forces will not bring […]

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