Author’s note: I’ve been hired to write marketing material for Ubisoft’s new game Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
Sometimes it’s better to incapacitate a potential enemy than to kill him. That’s a lesson the U.S. military learned the hard way in the course of several brutal wars. Today, thanks to that painful experience, American troops and their closest allies have access to the latest “nonlethal” weaponry, meant for confusing, distracting, or hurting a bad guy without killing him.
In Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier™, Ghosts and Russian Bodark commandos use several types of nonlethal weapons. The incapacitating gear, available through the game’s Gunsmith weapons-customization feature, fits onto the player’s assault rifle, shotgun, and other infantry weapons. “We are pretty liberal when it comes to players customizing their gear,” says one of the game’s developers.
The first purpose-made nonlethal weapon was CS gas, or “tear gas,” named for its inventors Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton. Since its invention in 1928, CS gas — which causes a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat — has been used in combat, riot, and hostage situations all over the world.
CS gas can send people scurrying away, or in some cases knock them flat on the ground, in too much pain to resist. During the Vietnam War, troops pumped CS gas into Vietcong tunnels to force out the defenders. In the 1990s, many nations labeled CS gas a “chemical weapon” and banned it from routine use, albeit with plenty of loopholes.
The CS gas ban left a gap in army and police arsenals. As partial replacements, law enforcement agencies adopted low-velocity rubber and beanbag bullets, blinding laser “dazzlers,” and electric stun guns.