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Pookie Power!

by on November 24, 2008

When the US military began taking massive casaulties to IEDs in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the ever-and-always technologically minded DoD looked to procure the latest hot-topic (and expensive) anti-mine toys. The Air Force insisted that their sleek fighter jets could be used in a mine-detection role, while the Army and Marines ordered thousands of new MRAPs for mine detection, convoy duty, and road clearing.
pookie2.jpgSometimes it helps to look backwards instead of forwards. Enter the Rhodesian Pookie, an ugly little contraption that helped clear roads and highways during the Rhodesian Bush War of the 1970s. The Pookie was invented as a response to the influx of Soviet mines, by way of ZANU and ZIPRA black liberation movements, into the Rhodesian theater. With it’s light weight evenly distributed over wide Formula-1 racing tires, the Pookie carried nothing more than a slanted, v-shaped armored cab for a driver and a large mine-detector centered beneath the vehicle’s undercarriage. Only five were ever constructed, but despite small numbers, Rhodesian Pookies cleared thousands of miles of deadly mines, saving untold civilian lives.
Of course the Pookie would have been decimated in modern Iraq or Afghanistan, where radio controlled IEDS –not mines– ruled the roads. But that’s not the point. The Pookie, though inadequate for today’s fight, was a fine example of an easy military solution to a complex military problem.
Such is the lesson inherent in its design and deployment, best illustrated by DaVinci’s an old maxim: simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
–John Noonan

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