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Retro Tech Shaving Hours Off Tedious Journeys in Afghanistan

by John Reed on February 3, 2011

Here’s an example of low tech being put to good use in Afghanistan where, as we all know, the roads are less than ideal:

The Army has begun using giant, woven mats to make it easier to navigate over soft, sandy terrain where traction can be near zero. Such a simple solution has reduced transit time by as much as seven hours over some routes, according to the Army.

One unit, the 3rd Platoon “Distribution,” Company E, 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, regularly makes painstaking trips through the deserts of Afghanistan to deliver supplies and recover damaged vehicles that are too heavy to be flown out by helicopter.

From an Army press release:

“We drove down from (FOB) Sharana to (FOB) Kushamond to drop off fuel and equipment, and picked up broken equipment and damaged trucks,” said Pvt. Justin Bosch, a gun truck driver with Distro platoon. “Then we took all the broken equipment back to (FOB) Sharana to be fixed.”

Terrain has proven the biggest obstacle in resupplying FOB Kushamond and has caused significant delays.

“Most of the roads are gravel and soft dirt,” said Staff Sgt. Lucas Pedigo, distribution platoon sergeant for 3rd Plt. “Only a few roads are (paved), so we have to go slow in some places and get creative in others so we don’t get trucks stuck or lose the (truck) loads.”

Pedigo came up with the quick solution was laying down the giant mats pictured above, allowing the trucks to skirt over the soft sand and saving precious time.

“This one area in our route is wide with deep, loose sand and a steep embankment on the other side,” said Pedigo. “Our trucks always get stuck there, but this time we used the mats, and instead of it taking eight hours to get the convoy across, it only took a little over an hour.”

Just goes to show that it’s not always the expensive, heavily tested and developed tech that’s key to making life easier in a combat zone (though, who knows how much those mats cost). Reminds me of the fact that dogs are still the top bomb detection tools in the war zone.

More pics after the jump:

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