Pentagon’s Non-Lethal Weapons Office Pushing Gray-Zone Warfare Tools

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October 8, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: October 8 on

MARINE CORPS BASE, QUANTICO, VA – The Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate is hoping to reframe the talk about non-lethal weapons amid a push by the Defense Department to boost lethality for high-end warfare.

The office’s director, Marine Corps Col. Wendell Leimbach, instead wants to talk about capability gaps in an era of gray zone warfare with Russia and China and where “intermediate force capabilities” – an umbrella term that also includes non-lethal weapons – would give American forces a better chance to compete.

Leimbach said it was hard at first to get meetings with service leaders when he introduced himself as the non-lethal guy. Now, he said while speaking at the Modern Day Marine 2019 exposition last week, he’s getting more meetings, and more Warfighters are starting to acknowledge the capability gap they’ve experienced for years without realizing it.

He couched his talk around a warfare spectrum with Phases 0 through 5: Phase 0 is shaping the environment, Phase 1 is deterring, Phase 2 is seizing the initiative, Phase 3 is dominating, Phase 4 is stabilizing, and Phase 5 is enabling civil authorities to resume control after the war. Aside from Phase 3, or all out armed conflict, he said the rest of the spectrum is “gray zone” warfare.