Grunt Tech IED Finder


Sometimes the solution to a problem comes down to one guy with a very simple idea.

That was the case in Safar Bazaar in Helmand province, where Afghan insurgents put up stiff resistance until Marines finally drove them out last summer. The enemy’s ubiquitous improvised explosive device was proving particularly difficult to find, even with the usual tools at hand: dogs, ground-penetrating radar, and aerial surveillance.

At least at first.

“There was a unique IED challenge there. There was dust on the ground. It was like walking on the moon,” Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills told reporters in Washington, DC, on May 5. And not just a fine layer of dust, but easily several inches deep, according to Mills’ description.

“Rather than use things you stepped on, [insurgents] put strings and wires through the dust, and you tripped that and that would trigger the explosion,” he said. The system made it difficult to find the IEDS, he said, until one of his Leathernecks came up with his own solution.

“This young Marine had devised this tool, like a boat hook,” Mills said, using piece of wood about as long as a conference table and affixing to one end a makeshift hook he’d found among some trash.

“Basically, you’d leaned it out into the dust and eased it back and as you eased it back, if you felt tension on it, it was a wire and you stopped and you went forward and disarmed it,” Mills recalled. “It was an amazing success. We’re producing those now.”

Bryant Jordan,

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