WASHINGTON - Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.
Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Air Force SecretaryMichael Wynne.
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne.
"(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."
The Air Force has funded research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service isn't likely to spend more money on development until injury issues are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.
Nonlethal weapons can weaken people if they are hit with the beam.
Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also disable some electronic devices.