Support: May 1, 2000


Having spent 25 years trying to get its tri-folding combat shovel to work without breaking, the Army has now decided to change the design to accept the inevitable. All of the various incarnations of the folding shovel have had a weak point, where the shovel breaks under stress or wear. Each change to the shovel design strengthened the weak point, but this only exposed the next-weakest point to breakage. The new MUDS (Multi-Utility Digging System) shovel design calls for the weak point (where the handle's middle section meets the blade) to be an easily-replaceable bolt. When it breaks, the soldier can quickly replace it with a spare. The new shovel has a saw blade on one edge, allowing soldiers to cut down small trees and cut small logs to use in their entrenchments. The Army wants the shovel, the Marines already plan to buy 200,000, and MUDS is the new standard for NATO armies.--Stephen V Cole


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