July 6, 2012: Given the incentives (life or death) it should come as no surprise that combat troops are very innovative in coming up with new battlefield tools. One recent example was the development of an improvised "spear" for exposing and cutting wires the Taliban would use to set off roadside bombs. Three years ago some soldier or marine (most likely the latter) figured out that one could take long (up to 8.4 meter/26 foot) fiberglass poles (normally used to help install communications or electrical wires), tape a sharp, curved blade to them and then use it to poke around an area possibly containing a roadside bomb detonating wire, without getting shot by the Taliban team waiting to set off the bomb. Once you found the wire and cut it, you could find and disable the bomb itself. The Taliban detonation team would by then either have run away, been captured, or killed.
The manufacturer of the fiberglass poles, which come in three sections, became curious after more and more orders for the poles came from army and marine combat units in Afghanistan. These outfits normally did not do a lot of cable installation and when asked what they were doing, the troops explained their innovation use of the poles.
As a bonus, the captured Taliban expressed great anger at their cleverly concealed bombs having been defeated by some poles with knives taped to one end. They expect more high tech from the Americans and don't like being defeated by a weapon any Afghan tribesman could build.