Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Silly String being used for bomb detection in Iraq

File this under 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention':
Daily News (AP):

An idea so Silly it just may save G.I.s

A New Jersey mom is helping to keep American troops safe in Iraq by sending them Silly String - to help detect booby trap bombs.

In an age of high-tech weapons systems, American soldiers are using the low-tech Silly String to reveal the almost-invisible trip wires attached to many booby trap bombs.

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem.

When Marcelle Shriver learned of the tactic from her son Todd, an Army sergeant in Iraq, she launched a drive to get more Silly String to Iraq.

Now, 1,000 cans of the neon-colored plastic goo are packed into Shriver's garage in Stratford, N.J., near Philadelphia, ready to be shipped to Iraq thanks to two churches and a pilot who heard about the drive.

"If I turn on the TV and see a soldier with a can of this on his vest, that would make this all worth it," said Shriver, 57, an office manager.

The military is reluctant to talk about the use of Silly String and similar products, saying that discussing specific tactics will tip off insurgents.

But Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said Army soldiers and Marines are not forbidden to come up with new ways to do their jobs.

Shriver said that because the string comes in an aerosol can, the Postal Service will not ship it by air. But a private pilot who heard about her campaign has agreed to fly the cans to Kuwait, where they will then be taken to Iraq.

Shriver said she will continue her campaign as long as her son is overseas.

"I know that he's going to come through this. I hope they all do," she said.


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