Cover: How to Assess the Impact of Non-Lethal Weapons

How to Assess the Impact of Non-Lethal Weapons

Published in: Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, pages 85-95 (2022). doi: 10.11610/Connections.21.2.06

Posted on rand.org Oct 30, 2023

by Krista Romita Grocholski, Scott Savitz

Assessing the tactical, operational, and strategic impact of non-lethal weapons is challenging, requiring different evaluative approaches from those used for lethal weapons. This article describes how a RAND team used a structure called a "logic model" to characterize what these systems and operations are intended to achieve and how they do so. The team then identified a set of metrics that collectively measured each element of the logic model. Additionally, the RAND team developed a diverse set of vignettes in which non-lethal capabilities were used and then qualitatively evaluated each metric in the context of each vignette using a set of standard criteria: how well the metric measured the corresponding element, how easily and quickly the value of the metric could be measured, and how consistently different individuals would likely assess the value of the metric in a particular situation. Based on this work, the logic model can be used to better characterize and communicate the impact of non-lethal weapons and actions at the tactical and operational levels and link these to strategic goals. Operators, planners, and commanders can also select specific metrics to measure the impact of these weapons and actions in real-world operations and wargames, enabling them to make better decisions on when and how to use them to achieve their goals.

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