Field Life-saver: 10th Mountain Division Invents “The Rat Claw”
“I remember I was pinned inside the truck… Fuel was dripping on me. I was in pain, but the Soldiers did extremely well and the Rat Claw worked. It took one try and I was out of the vehicle. Honestly, I don’t know how they would’ve gotten me out with the equipment we had on hand, if we didn’t have the Rat Claw.”
— Lt. Col. Michael Infanti, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division in Iraq.
Back home in the USA, road fatalities kill a certain percentage of Americans every year. Armies also have “non-combat casualties,” many of which are also related to road accidents. Iraq’s roads often pass by irrigation canals, an additional hazard since road accidents involving Hummers and even tanks can quickly become fatal if the vehicle rolls into the water and soldiers are unable to escape. The thing is, the very same up-armoring that protects soldiers from enemy bullets can become a deadly liability in a roll-over scenario. It can take 3 Soldiers or more to push a Hummer door open wide enough for the passengers to escape – and doors sunken into mud are nearly impossible to open.
Bill Del Solar, safety officer for the 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, decided to do something about the problem, at least as it applies to their Hummers…
He eventually came up with “the Rat Claw,” made up of a flat, steel hook that grips and another end that can be attached to almost anything. One tug with another vehicle will yank the door open – or if necessary, just rip door right off. If a patrol is properly equipped, the operation typically takes less than a minute on land after an accident, or up to 3 minutes from the time the vehicle goes into the water. “It’s a reasonable amount of time for a rescue,” he said.
The Rat Claw has other uses as well. Lt. Col. Infanti’s Hummer, for instance, was flipped over by an IED land mine. The doors were damaged by the force of the blast, but Soldiers were able to open the vehicle and extract all of their wounded comrades in time. See US Army News Service article.