Op-Ed: Pentagon to use dummy 'human surrogates' in pain experiments

Posted May 8, 2013 by Ken Hanly
The Pentagon is busy testing pain weapons. Rather than using human guinea pigs as test subjects, the Pentagon will employ "human surrogate" dummies who will not complain or form a union to ask for greater risk pay premiums.
An aerial view of the River Entrance of the Pentagon.
An aerial view of the River Entrance of the Pentagon.
US Department of Defense
The Pentagon has issued small business proposals for a sensor-outfitted "human surrogate" that would be used in a wide variety of non-lethal weapons tests. The tests would include, electromagnetic radiation, but also noise, blast pressure, electric currents, heat energy, and even light from flashbang grenades.
Alicia Owsiak, who is deputy chief of the Pentagon Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Technology Division, said that the aim of the experiments would be quick collection of data to understand injury potential for various parts of the body by the non-lethal stimuli of weapons. The dummy would need to mimic body parts and form of humans:. “Given that the risk of injury for a non-lethal stimuli is often influenced by hit location, the test target is envisioned to be a human surrogate with respect to internal and external anatomy.”
Some electromagnetic system such as the Active Denial System have already been extensively tested on humans."Many human tests have been performed[17] on over 700 volunteers and including over 10,000 exposures by ADS.[15] A Penn State Human Effects Advisory Panel (HEAP) concluded that ADS is a non-lethal weapon that has a high probability of effectiveness with a low probability of injury[14]".The agency did not comment on specifics as to exactly how this type of weapon could be used on the dummy. However, Kelly Hughes, a spokesperson for the group said that the dummy would be "a common test target that could be used across the spectrum of non-lethal stimuli".
The Active Denial System will probably be used in riot control as a means of dispersing a mob by causing short bursts of pain that would cause people to move away from an area targeted by the weapon. Critics point out that some disabled people or those unable to move for other reasons might receive larger doses. A plan to deploy the ADS system in Afghanistan was abandoned perhaps because the Taliban got wind of what was happening and used the issue in propaganda.
Michael Hanlon, who volunteered to experience the effects of an ADS exposure, described it as "a bit like touching a red-hot wire, but there is no heat, only the sensation of heat." Although Raytheon, the manufacturer, claims that the pain ceases immediately when the ray is removed, Hanlon said that his finger still tingled hours later. In April 2007, an airman was accidentally overdosed in a test. He had to be treated for two days in a hospital for second-degree burns in both legs.
For some time scientists have been trying to make computer models of human materials such as skin, muscle, tissue and bone but these are notoriously imprecise. It is hoped that the dummies fitted with sensors and with parts mimicking human organs, can provide more precise data on the effects of non-lethal stimuli. These new dummies may even be able to help in the better design of crash-test dummies. While using non-lethal means of crowd control may be better than using force that produces injuries, it will provide another weapon that will give profits to the military-industrial-complex without addressing the problems that crowds are often protesting.
Other non-lethal weapons such as the Taser, have turned out to cause injury and in some cases death although Taser International seems to always find some other factor that caused the fatality.