Not So Silly String


Submitted by Ward of Kit Up!

We’ve seen reports in Time (sorry . . . promise we don’t make a habit of reading it) and CBS affiliate KOVR relating that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have discovered that Silly String is great kit to find otherwise invisible tripwires.  Of course, Silly String isn’t standard issue gear, so families and friends have been answering the call and adding it to care packages.

Silly String:  It’s not just for birthday parties anymore.  Don’t go door-kicking without it!

  • Bill

    The sales pitch at the end of the write-up made me LOL! door-kickin’ … toooo fuuunny!!

  • Just want to let all know I’m NOT laughing at the situation of “door-kickin” only the comment made about the product. Had my turn in everything from Grenada to the “cake walk” in Desert S/S, sent some “poops” to Somalia, missed Hati as I was retireing; 82nd AA. Carry-on. A-bone!

  • p.m.

    just amazes me if this true that these are so creative on the level I would never of dreamed of. I’never look at the stuff the same way.

  • Rich Trevelyan – Ft

    Whoever thought of this deserves a medal!

  • cm

    just remember that this is an aerosol and can’t be sent in regular mail – won’t do the troops any good if it explodes and ruins their care packages!

  • Chris

    While deployed to the desert in 97-99 we also used this as a great stress relief! We(those not on duty) would have 2 am silly sting wars and everyone not involved woke up the next morning to a terrible mess but we all had a really good laugh!

  • andie

    i was told asout the silly string tip by a british soldier who served in bosnia the tryed telling the american troops that for ages until they started useing it.

  • Robert

    this is a great example of something that can be immediately deployed to the boots on the ground, specifically, EOD. it would be interesting to see the military make some of the things posted here standard issue. that would take care of the air shipping problem with care packages

  • Keith Parrish


    What a great idea!
    Isn’t that stuff flammable too?

    I could also use that to find a safe path through my Grandsons room!

    Hey! Maybe you should have a column called toys that saved our Boys..(and Girls )

  • In Panama I found that breaking a branch from a tree, so it was still attached and dangling can be held out in front of you. When it finds a tripwire you can see the lower part of the branch coming towards you. Any implement with the same qualities can be used. For example, 1/2 of a fishing rod with line attached with a small sinker can be held out in front to warn of trip wires. :^)

  • who is going to carry a fishing rod when they’re fighing a war????

  • David Dougherty

    I saw the news flash on the dynamic entry with silly string. they must’ve been guardsmen or reserves (soory guys but some of your “warfighters” give the groups a bad name. the entry would have to by very mild to even consider the use of silly string. a dynamic or explosive entry requires speed and tenacity. what do we do here, ok number one-foot on the door-wait for the guy with the string to expose himself and the direction of entry-identify exactly the direction of attack with a burst of pink string-then we go in and clear. does this sound remotely less than tactical. i’m sure it worked in a few instances but if i thought the entry was rigged then i had all the authority to use more considerable methods. ie…M67 frag, 40mm HE grenade, 25mm Bushmaster on my Brad, and the most effective breaching tool, 120mm HE from the nearest M1A2.

  • SGTKinsella

    I don’t think the intended use is for dynamic entry. I have heard about this from a couple of different sources, and would like to know exactly how it’s employed.

    So you carry this stuff in your cargo pocket. When you want to use it you release the grip on your weapon (making you combat ineffictive), reach into your pocket, pull out the can (assuming it hasn’t gone off and filled your pocket with sticky pink mess) spray it down the hallway (I can’t imagine you would do this before clearing a room?) and watch where it lands. Then what? Call EOD? Step over the wires?

    I have heard accounts of it being used – but I still don’t understand where it would be tactically feasible.

  • Driftwood

    I’m sure it’s a good idea somehow or another, for kinsella’s peace of mind, tactical tailor and a bunch of other guys make all kinds of pepper spray molle stuff you could wrap in in some 100mph tape or something, but like him I’m stumped with what point I’d lower my weapon and spray a bright green here I come string into a room. if anyone’s used it could you explain it real quick?

  • Great info, thanks a lot!!! I wish I will have such a writing skills.

  • My husband is in Iraq currently and we have seen the reports on this. Thanks so very much to you tactical types for the GREAT laugh tonight! I hadn’t thought of it that way when seeing the reports but can see your point. Either way, does anyone know of a way to ship it for the 2 a.m. wars? My husband would love that!

  • John

    While in Iraq (on dismounted infantry patrols) we would sometimes come across areas that we deemed suitable for someone to plant one of those horrible little mines in with a good tripwire.
    Gentlemen, you will not use silly string when breaching a room or clearing a building, but when time is available to be careful, believe me it is very useful.
    Case in point, my platoon was doing a patrol in an area of Bahgdad, clearing buildings for a convoy to move through a couple hours later. When we would enter a suspicious building (not that any of them weren’t) we would sometimes spray the silly string in front of the doorway or around the building to check for tripwires. My commander was in the area one day and saw a yound specialist using the stuff. He threatened the young soldier with an article 15 for spraying flammable substances around, that was until the soldier pointed out the silly string magically floating in air just before a doorway. The silly string had landed on top of a trip wire and give us a heads up on it’s location. You won’t regularly notice fine fishing line run across the front of a doorway, unless something lets you know it’s there.
    NO you will not use silly string 24/7 in your AO to recognize ied threats, but when it saves the life of a young soldier (and maybe some higher command) it is a cheap investment.

  • adam

    thanks guys when i join the one of the branches next year(still highschool) i will remember to tell my sisters to send me some silly string for 2am wars.. and IED’s but all together i think silly thingy is a pretty good idea

  • Rob

    Well, it’s good for finding tripwires, but it also leaves a trail behind soldiers so enemy has an easy time tracking them, no?

  • Jerry

    What happened to a 3′ piece of para cord hanging from the flash-hider? If you see the cord move as you’re pushing the muzzle ahead of you, you know something ain’t quite right. You don’t leave a trail either. Just my two pennies worth.

  • Jerry

    What happened to a 3′ piece of para cord hanging from the flash-hider? If you see the cord move as you’re pushing the muzzle ahead of you, you know something ain’t quite right. You don’t leave a trail either. Just my two pennies worth.

  • mark

    ok it is believed that it was first used by British forces( paras/s.a.s)in the nineties as a tripwire locator (but it was also rumoured it could sometimes show the disturbence of the ground level for the mine’s:psm1/tm-200/pma-2 location as well)whilst on recon through enemy controlled area’s or by follow up squads inrecently captured areas ,it was found to be light enough as not to trip the devices and dissolved quickly in water so leaving no tell tale traces after use that could be easely tracked ,it was also found that the dayglow green was the best colour to use in low light situ’s, now to the” you would have to lower your weapon and leave you defenceless” question. the way round this was that the pointman if suspected a trip wire was near by would call up his number 2 to cover him whilst he used the silly string to confirm its presence whilst in a prone position about 2 second burts would be more than enough it has been suggested. now to be honest most of this is second hand info and i cannot verify it’s primary source