Silly String and IEDs

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 10 months ago

I might be behind the news cycles a bit on this, but there is an interesting story concerning innovation and adaptation from troops in Iraq.  Hat tip to Arms and the Law, troops have discovered that they can find trip wires by shooting silly string at them:

Dear KSFO Listeners,

My good friend Deborah Johns, Vice-President of Marine Moms of Northern California, whose son William has is now serving his third tour of duty, sent me this very important letter.

Hi Melanie,

I have heard from William for the first time in 3 months. I was so excited to get a call from him. He told me that the Marines really have the pressure on the insurgents and the Marines are really uncovering big stuff that makes it difficult for them. William also said that good things are happening and to let everyone know, and to hang in there with them and keep supporting them because they need the support of the American people.

William also said that they need handwarmers because it is cold and more importantly–send Silly String. They are able to dispense that stuff from 10 feet away and it will detect trip wires that are not visible to the naked eye and saves their lives before entering a building. He said the Silly String just floats through the air and lays gently on any trip wire and works pretty cool. If there are no trip wires then it just falls and hits the ground.  So, we are trying to send any Silly String possible.

Thought you might like to know some good news from the battle field.

Love, Deb

No high tech gadgetry or gear necessary.  Purchasing it from Walmart and sending it over by mail is the most efficient way to put it in the hands of the troops.  If a defense contractor gets hold of the idea and it becomes part of the DoD budget, the cost will go up by three orders of magnitude (product testing, product QA, management oversight of the program, retirement benefits, etc.).

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  • http://www.simplesmith.blogspot.com Smith

    That is amazing. Whoever first came up with that idea won’t be buying beers for a looong time when he returns stateside.

    I find it humerous because Aerosol cans are prohibited in packages sent overseas. My dad had to sneak my RemOil cans underneath something else in the packages he’d send to me. And I’m pretty sure Silly String would be classified as an “aerosol” can.

    That’s awesome regardless.

  • Herschel Smith

    I assumed the veracity of the story as I linked it, but there are other published reports of the same kind of use.

  • Pingback: Cop The Truth()

  • Alan Cranford

    I was introduced to the Silly String trick during pre-deployment training at Fort Lewis in December 2003. Prior to that, EOD would use shaving cream (spray cans of shaving gel?), and that was in the early 1990’s. An earlier fix was a length of fishing line on a pole. Another field expedient that my National Guard company was shown at Fort Lewis was using a flexible wand or reed or long grass. There are multiple ways to beat trip wires, many dating back to the Second World War.


You are currently reading "Silly String and IEDs", entry #415 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq,Technology,Weapons and Tactics and was published December 7th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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