BlogInnovation - DEF Australia

Idea Pitch – Improving the Less Than Lethal Shotgun capability

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has fulfilled a wide range of tasks across the spectrum of conflict and military operations. This is not likely to change in the future and therefore it is incumbent upon the ADF to train and arm itself appropriately.

The post will argue that due to the ADF’s history of conducting, and likelihood of its future to conduct, stability operations and limited policing roles there will be a requirement to employ precise, less than lethal (LTL) weapon systems. This post will focus specifically on the in-service tactical shotgun, the Remington 870, and the range of LTL ammunition that may be employed by this system.

The Capability

The in-service tactical shotgun, Remington 870, is the only small arms weapon system that is capable of delivering lethal and LTL effects without modifications between ammunition transitions. That is to say, it is the only small arms weapon system the ADF has that allows the soldier to easily switch between lethal and less than lethal ammunition natures. Some of the LTL ammunition natures that can be provided include Bean Bag rounds,  airburst CS Gas rounds, both short and long ranging, fin stabilised rubber projectiles, rubber buckshot, signal flare rounds , thunder-flash/distraction rounds. These ammunition natures’ effects can be applied in crowd control, target marking, and close quarter battle situations.

The Gap

There currently exists a gap within ADF doctrine on the training of the application of shotgun fire. This includes the application of LTL fires. The development and training on the tactics, techniques and procedures for the transition between lethal and less than lethal fires is not linked to any formal or informal training program for those expected to use the weapon system.

The current range of LTL ammunition within the ADF is limited and held within niche units that are not reflective of the broader ADF community that could use LTL effects on operations.

The Solution

The ADF already has the majority of the components that can fill the capability gap. The corporate knowledge to develop training and doctrine for the tactics, techniques and procedures for the use of LTL ammunition exists. Current advanced marksmanship training practices can be adapted to suit the use of the tactical shotgun.

The development of the tactical shotgun capability within the ADF requires a formalised training and doctrine development program to capitalise on the experience of serving members. Based on the current allocation of the Remington 870, practise base, and likely tactical application the responsibility for this development should reside within the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (RACMP). There are several individuals within the RACMP who have received formal training and developed a wide experiential base in the use of LTL ammunition use. This program should involve the development of a less than lethal ammunition training course, similar to those conducted by the US Military. The 1st Military Police Battalion would be the centre for excellence for this capability with the ability to export training packages based upon demand.

The ADF needs to acquire a comprehensive range of less than lethal ammunition that is suited to the range of tasks likely to be conducted across the spectrum of conflict in the future. This acquisition would also need to be supported by the purchase of bespoke ammunition carriage pouches that are suitable for a combination of lethal and LTL ammunition natures.

The Result

The ADF will have a holistic tactical shotgun capability for use on operations across the spectrum of conflict. A deliberate approach to the training and doctrine will ensure the base level of this capability matches the standards of other small arms capabilities within the ADF.

About the Author:

J. Alexander enlisted as a soldier in 2003. He graduated from RMC in 2015 and is posted as an LT to 1MP BN D Coy.


Grounded Curiosity is a platform to spark debate, focused on junior commanders. The views expressed do not reflect any official position or that of any of the author’s employers – see more here.

4 thoughts on “Idea Pitch – Improving the Less Than Lethal Shotgun capability

  1. Hi Simon,
    The resourcing issues I’ve identified so far are the limited selection of Less than Lethal (LTL) munitions in the Army ammunition inventory.

    Resources will be required to acquire long and short range CS Gas rounds for operational use, as well as thier accompanied long and short range training rounds that deploy chalk dust instead of CS gas.

    Resources will also be required to acquire long range fin stabilised rubber projectiles and other specific LTL impact munitions for training and operations.

    Lastly, resources will also be required to procure or manufacture a suitable ammunition pouch that holds lethal and LTL munitions on the same platform.

  2. Hi James,

    As you’re probably aware, various Australian police jurisdictions have developed their less lethal force options to a much greater extent than the ADF.

    A range of less lethal munitions are already in service with these agencies including bean bag, CS, stinger rounds etc; importantly, the employment of these force options is always IAW the jurisdictional use of force policy/tactical options model.

    The issue of differentiating between lethal and less lethal rounds has generally been addressed through dedicating specific individuals and weapons for less lethal use during an operation – usually the shotgun will be fitted with orange furniture to provide ease of recognition.

    Given the nature of the tasks you have outlined, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the applicability of this solution for peacekeeping/population protection and control/security operations?

  3. As a further comment, I believe it it would be extremely beneficial to identify key stakeholders for this type of capability across the ADF. Off the top of my head I would envisage Air Force Security Forces and Navy boarding party SMEs as having great interest in this area.

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