Airmen of the 820th Security Forces Group are busy these days. Not only are they conducting the user trial and training for the GSAT ShotSpotter + ScanEagle anti-sniper system, they’re also the first unit selected to conduct the extended user evaluation portion of the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) process for “Project Sherrif,” otherwise known as the Active Denial System. ADS won Popular Science magazine’s “Best of What’s New Award” in general technology back in 2001, and DID has been covering this system since May 2005; despite funding and requests from combat commanders, however, the system continues to move toward approval at a very slow pace.
More than 700 volunteers have been tested with the system. Of those, 2 experienced second-degree burns, the last in 2007. It was briefly deployed in Afghanistan in 2010, but reportedly withdrawn without having seen action, according to reports from an interview between Noah Schactman (then of Wired) and General Stanley McChrystal.
In the last month, the Army has been promoting its ADS system, with exercises held in late December, as well as promotional civilian communications, such as the YouTube video appearing in today’s Rapid Fire. The communications come from the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program.
ADS uses invisible, focused microwave beams at a frequency that that can’t penetrate human skin, but does stimulate nerves within it, producing an imaginary but painful burning sensation that instinctively forces people to move away. Past Project Sheriff reports also describe an escalating series of measures, from a “Long Range Acoustic Device” (sonic blaster), up to a Laser Dazzler, then on to the ADS pain ray before things escalate to live ammunition. Tech. Sgt. John DeLaCerda, the NCO in charge of the 820th SFG advanced technologies section, put it this way: