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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wartime innovation

In an age of multimillion-dollar high-tech weapons systems, sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can save lives. Which is why a New Jersey mother is organizing a drive to send cans of Silly String to Iraq.

U.S. troops use the stuff to detect trip wires around bombs, as Marcelle Shriver learned from her son, a soldier in Iraq.

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, troops know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

Silly string? Whatever it takes.

In other cases of battlefield improvisation in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have bolted scrap metal to Humvees in what has come to be known as "Hillybilly Armor." Medics use tampons to plug bullet holes in the wounded until they can be patched up.

Also, soldiers put condoms and rubber bands around their rifle muzzles to keep out sand. Troops also have welded old bulletproof windshields to the tops of Humvees to give gunners extra protection. They have dubbed it "Pope's glass," a reference to the barriers that protect the pontiff.

Nothing like thinking out of the box!

This AP Wire story appeared in the Boston Globe today.


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