The December 2007 issue of Britain’s Soldier Magazine highlights some recent winners under the UK MoD’s Gems program, which provides cash rewards for clever solutions to operational problems.
Royal Engineers LCpl Tom Glinn, Spr “Cookie” Cook and Spr Jay Coombes needed to cool Basra’s Cobra radar system when it began to fail in Iraq’s heat. The unit’s initial solution of placing the unit in an inflatable tent has a structural and thermal failure – but a crude sketch, some scrap wood, discarded plastic tubing and even cling film worked, drawing air from an air conditioning unit and feeding it to the radar via a set of insulated tubes. Cost GBP 20 (about $41). Winner, one Gems cash prize.
Nor are they alone. Royal Engineer Sgt Jim Randall designed a metal hook attached to an adjustable metal pole, that can be dragged along the ground to identify command wires leading to roadside IED land mines. It worked so well that explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams use them now. Craftsmen Steve Whiting and Phil Ashby noticed that ISO containers on the back of some of the Army’s larger trucks were snagging power lines and creating power outages. Locals not happy. Army not happy. Response? An angled metal frame that allows the cables to glide over the containers. Simple, effective little… Gems.