Voila, the first installment of a ten-part series on the best technologies in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve got ten in mind, but if you’ve got any recommendations, drop me a line at david_axe-at-hotmail.com. And if you want to toss any ideas out for the worst techs, I’ll be following up the top ten list with a worst five list at the end of the week. So with no further a-do … number ten:
Iraq and Afghanistan are dangerous. Real dangerous. Mortars, RPGs, snipers and car bombs, you name it. Imagine you’re a soldier in the occupying army. How can you even sleep at night with all those munitions aimed at you? The answer: Hesco barriers. Take a collapsible wire-mesh and canvas screen and fill it with dirt, stack and repeat. For $700 per 5′x4′x3′ box, plus some muscle power, you’ve got yourself an instant castle wall that can absorb all but the biggest blast. Don’t believe me? Check out this test video.
An anonymous soldier blogger in Kabul, Afghanistan, recounts this 2006 ambush on an American outpost:
The only protection available for the [Army] lieutenant [Shawn Hammond] and his senior non-commissioned officer was the Hesco barrier to their immediate front. With enemy fire cracking over their heads and all alongside them, the gunners of the machine guns began to synchronize their fires, maintaining the rhythm and keeping the enemy’s heads down.The enemy finally got a bead on the position of the de facto platoon leader’s position, and brought a mortar round six feet in front of his position. Violently thrown to the ground, the lieutenant and his first sergeant were temporarily deafened by the ringing in their ears and disoriented by the thunderous pounding in their heads. “I was trying my best not to vomit,” said Hammond, reflecting the common feeling soldiers experience when bombarded with “danger close” mortar fire. The disorientation is so strong that it makes you feel like an astronaut in training. It is an act of extreme will not to lose control. Had it not been for the four-foot thick protection of the Hesco, the two of them would likely have not lived to tell their story.
It ain’t sexy. It’s hardly interesting at all. But it works. And that’s what this series is all about.