Support: December 17, 1999


Soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 509th Parachute Infantry at Fort Polk, Louisiana, were the first to test a new series of BDUs treated with the insecticide Permethrin. This is a commercial insecticide that is effective against mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, mites, ticks, and lice. The troops (who play the role of enemy guerrillas at the Joint Readiness Training Center and spend more time in the field than any other light infantry unit) reported that the uniforms worked to keep the insects off of the troops. This made their lives considerably less miserable, and among other benefits, allowed them to get sleep during field combat maneuvers. Permethrin is not supposed to be applied to human skin, but a new bonding process ensures that it remains part of the clothing and does not transfer to the soldier. The pesticide will reportedly not be washed out in normal laundry and remains a part of the uniform and effective in keeping insects away from the soldier for up to two years. --Stephen V Cole


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