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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
Joined: 17 Sep 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 02 Jan, 2007 11:07 pm    Post subject: Modern Melee Weapons         Reply with quote

I have a question that I've been wanting to ask for sometime now. I know that in the modern world the only melee weapons that are stilled used by the police and military are comabt knives, bayonets and batons/truncheons. Most of todays wars/other situations are mainly fought with ranged weapons (firearms and explosives). I believe that the combat knive/bayonet will always serve a soldier either as a tool or weapon on the battlefield, or if the soldier's firearm becomes jammed or if she/he runs out of ammunition. But the qusetion I would like to ask is if the police offficer's baton or truncheon is still a valuable weapon in melee combat during riot control/law enforcement situations? I would also like somebody to give me their opinion on whether the baton or truncheon should still be used or become obselete? The main reason that I'm asking this question is because my cousin is a police officer and he says he carries a taser gun (I don't know the exact name/ type of the taser weapon he has; I didn't ask him) instead of the their traditional weapon. He told me that the taser gun is alot safer and faster to use to stun and apprehend a subject out in the open field.

Last edited by Justin Pasternak on Tue 02 Jan, 2007 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jon Kemper





Joined: 25 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 02 Jan, 2007 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal opinion on knives in modern warfare is that they are similar to guns on fighters like the F-14 Tomcat. Just because you have a weapon that can down an enemy at extreeme range doesn't mean that you'll never have to fight in close quarters. In Vietnam, the US Air Force decided that guns were obsolete because guided missles would "end the dogfight before it began". The original models of the F-4 Phantom were not produced with the aircraft equivalent of a "knife", but soon the Phantom was modified to carry guns. Reason? While most enemy craft were in fact downed at long range by US missles, some would inevitably make it through the missle barrage or simply go unnoticed by US pilots. These aircraft would close within the minimum firing range of the Phantom's missles, thus rendering the missle-reliant aircraft harmless. A majority of Phantom casualties resulted from this exact phenomenon.

The same logic can be applied to weapons today. The barrel of the standard issue US Army rifle is quite long, good for long range, but horribly clumsy in a hand to hand fight. Simply put, would you rather swing a 7 pound, 3 to 4 foot long rifle at an adversary that's standing 2 feet from you, or stab him with a much more comfortable 8 inch combat knife?

As far as the effectiveness of the weapons you mentioned, I can only say that, theoretically, kevlar will not stop a stabbing knife. The theory behind this is that a bullet applies force over a large area whereas a knife effects a small area, thus forcing its way inbetween the fibers. I don't have any firsthand confirmation of that, just heard it a lot from police officers.

Knives still have a place on the battlefield, me thinks.
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Martin Forrester




Location: Huddersfield
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 12:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I always understood that the reason for leaving out guns off fighter jets was the weight, that the ability to get out of dodge when your missiles were no longer effective was considered preferable at the time.

I think that Tazers and truncheons are just the most effective non lethal melee weapons about, I am English and the police forces of our countries disagree on this term, but I still think a fuss would be made if your riot police were issued with pollaxes.

I heard Chinese troops used the traditional broadsword (Dao) in trench combat in the 30's effectively, and allied soldiers were known to sharpen entreching tools (a kind of swiss army spade) in WW1. I have no idea how much hand to hand combat goes on in modern war, but i suspect it is not enough to make carrying more than a knife practical.

Happy to hear from people with actual experience though.

Oh, lets just pull out our swords and start whacking at each other, that'll solve everything!
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 6:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had some training with baton an shield in a civil defense riot squad program several years ago, and I think that tasers will not render batons obsolete because the two weapons have different profiles and different optimal methods of use. A taser would be most handy for handling one or a small number or suspects in single combat situations, but in riot controls and demonstrations the baton would still be mroe handy for fighting in a shieldwall.

And then, I believe the only major disadvantage of the baton compared to the taser in single-combat situations is that it requires more skill to use effectively, and this is by no means an unsurmountable barrier since a good training program can take care of it easily. A baton also needs no other source of power than the man/woman wielding it. So, if I were a police officer on the street I would have preferred to carry both whereas in a riot or demonstration control squad I'd rather carry a baton and a good stout shield.

(BTW, the reasoning about jets being able to doge wasn't really a good one, since the stereotypical gunless jet--the early models of the F4 Phantom--was rather less maneuverable than the gun-equipped MiG-21 it faced.)
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Allen Andrews




Location: Maine USA
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Our dept requires the carry of a service handgun, an ASP expanding baton, a Taser X26, and DEFTEC OC spray. There are other weapons option available in our patrol vehicles (including a 3 foot riot baton).

Since the dept went to the use of the Taser, our use of other less than lethal force options has decreased. Very simply the Taser works well with fairly limited liability exposure.

That being said, I am a big fan of the ASP. I have had to use mine in a number of situations and it has served well. If I had to choose just one less than lethal force option it would be the ASP due to its simplicity, versatility, and dependability.

What I thought was interesting was in the early 1980s I was in Tokyo Japan. There were law enforcement officers assigned at regular intervals throughout the area I was in and they all seemed to have only a staff as a weapon. I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have been so I'm not sure if they also carried a sidearm, or how long the staff was etc. I wonder if that is still the case?

" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

Faramir son of Denethor

Words to live by. (Yes, I know he's not a real person)
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 6:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jon Kemper wrote:
The same logic can be applied to weapons today. The barrel of the standard issue US Army rifle is quite long, good for long range, but horribly clumsy in a hand to hand fight. Simply put, would you rather swing a 7 pound, 3 to 4 foot long rifle at an adversary that's standing 2 feet from you, or stab him with a much more comfortable 8 inch combat knife?

Obviously in that scenario you would use the rifle to butt stroke him and create space for a bayonet stab. This way you don't have to relinquish control of your primary weapon.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 7:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Forrester wrote:

I heard Chinese troops used the traditional broadsword (Dao) in trench combat in the 30's effectively, and allied soldiers were known to sharpen entreching tools (a kind of swiss army spade) in WW1.


E. M. Remarque mentions using sharpened entrenching tools in All Quiet On the Western Front. Here is a picture of a WW1 trench knife that looks effective



 Attachment: 24.17 KB
DGUARDWWI.jpg

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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 8:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello one and all; Happy New Year to each of you.

Note; I am not in the police nor have I spent any time in the army so my input below may have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
A number of documentaries on UK TV has shown that the UK police tend to follow the following doctorine;
[a] for normal police officers patrolling the streets, a baton of some sorts is carried and Tazers are being trialled. There is some concern about the effect Tazers may have on "victims" concerning possible heart attacks etc.
[b] for a riot situation, the groups of officers involved usually form a shield wall using large rectangular shields at the front, with some officers carrying smaller round shields and batons at the back; the latter act as a snatch squad, charging out to capture / arrest specifically identified rioters when it is deemed possible.

It can perhaps be reasonably assumed then that:
- in riots, shields and batons are the preferred weapons / instruments to use.
- in "normal" policing / arrest situations Tazers may be used to deal with particulary aggressive individuals.
I believe that the thinking, from higher up the police chain of command, is that the officer should use the appropriate "weapon" to counter the specific threat that is met.

Concerning the battefield scenario, it would appear that bayonets have for some time been revised to be a combination of bayonet and general purpose knife. And whilst bayonet training continues [partly to help build an aggressive spirit], the trend in military thinking is that bayonet use is not really expected.
That being said however, I read somewhere [sorry, I ican't cite source] that the British SAS for example did use bayonets, and even KaBar knives in either / both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The general trend may be away from bayonet fighting, but soldiers are likely to carry them, as experience has shown that circumstances can arise when they are needed.

I believe that an American general in the 50s / 60s once said that despite all the new fancy technology of atom bombs etc, you still needed a soldier with a rifle and bayonet to go in and winkle out the enemy and make him sign a peace treaty.

Thats my 0.02 worth for today; please feel free to point out any errors in the above.
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Max von Bargen




Location: Stanford, CA
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Malcolm A wrote:
That being said however, I read somewhere [sorry, I ican't cite source] that the British SAS for example did use bayonets, and even KaBar knives in either / both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The general trend may be away from bayonet fighting, but soldiers are likely to carry them, as experience has shown that circumstances can arise when they are needed.


I agree. I also read somewhere (and also cannot cite the source) that American soldiers also used bayonets in Afghanistan, particularly in the cave fighting. I also read another interesting article (which, unfortunately, I also cannot cite) about a Scottish company in Iraq scattering an outnumbering force of insurgents with a bayonet charge after they [the Scots] ran out of ammo.

Malcolm A wrote:
I believe that an American general in the 50s / 60s once said that despite all the new fancy technology of atom bombs etc, you still needed a soldier with a rifle and bayonet to go in and winkle out the enemy and make him sign a peace treaty.


That would be George S. Patton. Perhaps a controversial figure, but I basically agree with this statement.

Happy New Year!
Max
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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
Joined: 17 Sep 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Everyone, for your input on this topic, this clears up alot of the questions that I had!
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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reference the note above about recenet bayonet action I think you refer to this incident.

May 17th 2004
SCOTTISH soldiers with fixed bayonets fought a vicious three-hour battle with Iraqi rebels after being ambushed.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were outnumbered by at least five to one in the surprise attack.
But by the end of the battle, which involved brutal hand-to-hand combat, only three soldiers had been slightly wounded while more than 35 of the attackers were dead.
One military source said: 'It was very bloody and it was difficult to count all their dead.' It was the first time in 22 years that British troops had launched a bayonet charge.

The right weapon, the right tactics and the right attitude....
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin,
the question of the use of the baton and shield and Malcolm's comments about the right weapon and the right tactics brought to mind the riots in Quebec City with regard to the G8 summit. The tactics of the black shirt anarchist groups were to mingle with the otherwise non-aggressive crowd, and to use them as human shields while they hurled potatoes with nails or razor blades and other such devices at the police, in the hope to provoke them into a blind charge into the crowd, which should result in mayhem and injuries to protestors, thus creating a situation where injured protestors, theirs friends, families and sympathisers in general would cry out against the brutality...Tactics need to be considered very seriously when measuring the use of the appropriate tool. I believe that the tactic of slowly walking the crowd away from the place of confrontation, with the use of the large shield and baton, is designed to minimize the injuries to the crowd while also allowing the maximum protection to the working men and women on the line. It is only when the crowd begins to retreat that openings occur allowing rapid intervention groups to go forward and nab those who were hiding behind three or four rows of protesting citizens to throw their missiles (stones, bottles, nailed potatoes, etc...) That's when the arrests occur. The situation is different when the aggressors decide to come to meet the line, then you will see physical confrontations where the police neutralize the offender ( headlocks and such), and sometimes the use of tazers, pepper spray, or whatever incapacitates the offender as fast as possible, with as little collateral damage as possible...
In brief, as Malcolm said, the right tactic with the right weapon and the right attitude, this usually translates into an attitude where the police have to balance distinguishing violent offenders from human shields against ensuring their and their co-workers protection. Not an easy job.

Bon coeur et bon bras
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Max von Bargen




Location: Stanford, CA
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Malcolm A wrote:
Reference the note above about recenet bayonet action I think you refer to this incident.

May 17th 2004
SCOTTISH soldiers with fixed bayonets fought a vicious three-hour battle with Iraqi rebels after being ambushed.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were outnumbered by at least five to one in the surprise attack.
But by the end of the battle, which involved brutal hand-to-hand combat, only three soldiers had been slightly wounded while more than 35 of the attackers were dead.
One military source said: 'It was very bloody and it was difficult to count all their dead.' It was the first time in 22 years that British troops had launched a bayonet charge.

The right weapon, the right tactics and the right attitude....


That was the one. Thanks for posting it.

Max
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to leave the knives and baynets to others more knowledgable, but in the Law Enforcement community, the concept of force continuum is a central issue. Tasers, batons, and chemical deterrants such as OC sprays give officers (in my case MP) valuable options. I can now take the fight to the suspect and win, but use just the right amount of force. This is especially critical in a letigious society. Without going descendng into a policy discussion, here is a sample force continuum. There almost as many models as there are agencies, and they are often heavily debated and/or scrutinized. This example is from Wikipedia:

Verbal command
Handcuff suspect
Search suspect
Use wrist/arm lock
Use takedown
Block/punch/kick
Strike suspect
Wrestle suspect
Pepper spray
Use baton
Use firearm

You'll note that baton is just below deadly force, and anyone who's ever faced on in earnest will appreciate why. Military riot batons are generally about 36 inches long, and generate enough blunt trauma to split skulls, but they also offer versatility in the hands of a skilled operator. Of course you can smash away with viking fury, but you can also disarm, trap, and lock as well. It's a beautiful thing.

As far as combat effectiveness, I just about lost all of my front teeth to a baton held like a quarterstaff, and believe me it'll take the fight out of you quickly. Pepper spray and other chemical agents have mixed success; though generaly reliable, they can be as big a threat to the Officer deploying as to the target.

Tasers will likely never replace firearms completely. Any weapon that can be defeated by wearing a down parka cannot be relied on in life or death situations.

Or at least that's what I think. I may be partially or completely wrong.
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Martin Forrester




Location: Huddersfield
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jan, 2007 4:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen Andrews wrote:
What I thought was interesting was in the early 1980s I was in Tokyo Japan. There were law enforcement officers assigned at regular intervals throughout the area I was in and they all seemed to have only a staff as a weapon. I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have been so I'm not sure if they also carried a sidearm, or how long the staff was etc. I wonder if that is still the case?


I think thats interesting. Tokyo seems extremely crowded for staff work, I would certainly want somthing shorter as well if a crush developed. Perhaps they formed a 'staff wall' as a team to hold back crowds? That would certainly leave you open to thrown objects. Maybe that kind of rioting just isn't common in Japan.
As regards the trench knife above, It isn't as intimidating as something heavier, you can understand a soldier wanting to avoid a fight carrying somthing more ugly.

Oh, lets just pull out our swords and start whacking at each other, that'll solve everything!
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jan, 2007 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Force continuum" is now an outdated and obsolete concept. The term implies that option 1 must be used before option 2, which must be used before 3, etc. As most experienced LEO's know, sometimes it is neccessary to progress immediately from 1 to 10, or whatever. In our pathetically litigious society the terminology of "force options" is now seen as preferable since this implies more of a "tool box" concept rather than options that are rigidly controlled by procedure.

While all of these things are valuable "tools in the tool box", I have long held the opinion that we, as a profession, need to spend more time training our officers themselves in things like thought proccess and communication skills rather than spending money on more gadgets.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jan, 2007 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen Andrews wrote:
What I thought was interesting was in the early 1980s I was in Tokyo Japan. There were law enforcement officers assigned at regular intervals throughout the area I was in and they all seemed to have only a staff as a weapon. I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have been so I'm not sure if they also carried a sidearm, or how long the staff was etc. I wonder if that is still the case?


Was it really a staff--or a tonfa?
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Allen Andrews




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jan, 2007 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Allen Andrews wrote:
What I thought was interesting was in the early 1980s I was in Tokyo Japan. There were law enforcement officers assigned at regular intervals throughout the area I was in and they all seemed to have only a staff as a weapon. I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have been so I'm not sure if they also carried a sidearm, or how long the staff was etc. I wonder if that is still the case?


Was it really a staff--or a tonfa?


It was a staff, long enough for me to make note of, so I would say at least 4-5 feet long. I seem to remember there being a small shack nearby where the officer could shelter in inclement weather (maybe do reports etc). I apologize for my lack of details, I was in the Coast Guard at the time on a "good will" training deployment with the equivalent of the Japanese Coast Guard at the time. As a young man on leave in an exotic locale, I had a certain degree of sensory overload. (the fact that they sold Sapporo and Kirin beer in cans up to 3 liters in size at curbside vending machines didn't help my powers of recollection either)

" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

Faramir son of Denethor

Words to live by. (Yes, I know he's not a real person)
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jan, 2007 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:

While all of these things are valuable "tools in the tool box", I have long held the opinion that we, as a profession, need to spend more time training our officers themselves in things like thought proccess and communication skills rather than spending money on more gadgets.


A very good point. Quite a lot of European countries have traditionally have unarmed police. While I do not have an overview of the rest of europe, at least Norway still has.
A nowegian police officer does not even carry a baton at most times: These are kept in the car, and taken out when needed. While I do not know the exact procedures, firearms can only be carried when authorised. (I.E you can have a gun in the car, but to take it out, you need to ask permition from HQ fist.)
This helps keep focus on the People Skills, and keep confrontations low key.

IMHO, the most important function of a melee weapon on the modern battlefield is psycological. A soldier who subconciously knows that he's got a knife is less scared of being engaged in close quarters.
This again improves his efficiency, as war is as much (or more) about making people run away than killing them.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jan, 2007 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
"Force continuum" is now an outdated and obsolete concept.


Small wonder the Army still uses it. Big boats are slow to turn. Wink

Quote:
The term implies that option 1 must be used before option 2, which must be used before 3, etc.


From what I was taught and experienced, it has always been explicitly stated that the escalation to deadly force ( or any tier in the continuum) need not be preceeded by the level below it; i.e. you match or jump one level above the threat. If calling it a toolbox helps clarify that in peoples minds, I'm all for it.

Quote:
While all of these things are valuable "tools in the tool box", I have long held the opinion that we, as a profession, need to spend more time training our officers themselves in things like thought proccess and communication skills rather than spending money on more gadgets.


Agreed. Getting back to the actual tools in the box....
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