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Military Diaries: Going "Outside the Wire" with RC Cars


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Global Hotspot: Iraq

May 12, 2005

By Sgt. Greg Papadatos
69th Infantry Regiment

Yesterday, I was "outside the wire," patrolling with the 2nd Platoon. We came upon a possible IED in the middle of the road, and stopped all traffic to check it out. While we were doing that, our battalion's S-3 officer drove by on the opposite side of the highway and spotted one of our soldiers not wearing his proper eye protection. He then lit up our company commander on the radio, and our CO had to reprimand us for that. All the while we're trying to figure out if the cardboard box in the middle of the road is merely a windblown piece of trash or a bomb planted there to kill us!

A young private in that platoon has one of those radio-controlled toy cars. When they find unidentifiable debris in the road, E.S. sends out his little RC car and rams it. If it's light enough to be moved or knocked over, it's too light to be a bomb, so we can approach it and get rid of it. If it's heavy, we call EOD. At night, they duct tape a flashlight to the car.

The military actually has robots that it uses for such things, but they are larger, slower, higher-tech, and frightfully expensive. Only EOD units have them, and you could wait for hours and hours before they show up with their robot. If 200 units read about this idea, and 50 units actually buy a toy RC car, and it saves just one single life, it would all be worth it.

I've suggested to E.S. that he put some fancy paint and a couple of LED lights on his toy car, demonstrate it to some Army brass at the Pentagon, and sell it to them for $80,000. He won't actually try that, but it's fun to imagine. In the meantime, I've also suggested to some of his chain of command that they put him in for a commendation or a medal for his ingenuity. If he ever finds a real bomb with that toy car, they probably will.

I was "inside the wire" today, after 7 days in a row of patrols. I'm back out there tomorrow morning.

2005. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.



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