Thursday, June 14, 2007

Weapons of Mass Flatulence

Weapons of Mass Flatulence
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

While most people believe the U.S. Department of Defense only wants to kill people, that's not entirely true. They also want to make enemy soldiers get stung by angry wasps, get blamed for farting, and turn them gay.

My brother sent me a story from the BBC about a project proposed by the U.S. Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. The report, "Harassing, Annoying, and 'Bad Guy' Identifying Chemicals," came to light after the Sunshine Project, a military watchdog group, obtained a copy through the Freedom of Information Act.

In 1994, Wright Labs sent a proposal for a six-year, $7.5 million project to develop chemicals to turn soldiers gay, attract angry wasps or rats, cause severe halitosis, and simulate flatulence among enemy troops, also called the "Who? Me?" bomb.

My brother and I have the maturity of a couple of 12-year-olds, so he knew this story would appeal to me greatly.

The "love bomb" would have caused widespread homosexual behavior among enemy soldiers, resulting in a "distasteful, but completely non-lethal" collapse of the enemy's military.

Edward Hammond, a Sunshine Project spokesman, told KPIX-TV in San Francisco the chemical was supposed cause the enemy's army to become ineffective because "their units (would) break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another."

(I'll leave any jokes about little blue pills and broken-down units to you.)

The report did not mention what effect the "love bomb" would have on soldiers who were already gay.

Military officials told KPIX-TV that while they did consider the love bomb, they quickly rejected it.

But Wright Labs didn't put all their heat-seeking chickens in one basket. They had several other non-lethal ideas, including a "sting me/attack me" chemical weapon that would attract swarms of angry wasps toward enemy troops. Personally, I don't see what damage a bunch of middle-class Protestants from Connecticut can do, but I have to give Wright Labs credit for thinking outside the box.

According to the report, the "sting me/attack me" chemical was supposed to attract "stinging and biting bugs, rodents, and large animals." Given my own experience with stinging and biting bugs, they could achieve the same effect by sending half a million enemy combatants on a Sunday picnic.

My personal favorite was the "Who? Me?" bomb, a silent, but deadly idea that has been around since the mid-1940s. This little gem was supposed to simulate flatulence among enemy ranks. I don't know what effect it was supposed to have, but it's clear the researchers weren't clear on the expected results.

Do the math. Female soldiers notwithstanding, militaries around the world are made up primarily of Guys. Guys who think bodily functions are hilarious. Guys who will fart at each other to get a laugh. Guys who think "pull my finger" is sheer comedic genius.

Guys like me and my brother.

What did the researchers expect to happen if they dropped this particular dirty bomb? Would the soldiers become so overwhelmed they would flee in terror? Shoot each other in disgust? More likely, they would collapse in a giggling heap, shouting, "Dude, that's nasty! What died inside you?"

Unfortunately, for humorists everywhere, the researchers decided the fart bomb was doomed to fail. According to the BBC story, they concluded "people in many areas of the world do not find fecal odor offensive, since they smell it on a regular basis."

But if fart bombs aren't your cup of beans, the researchers also proposed a chemical agent that would cause severe halitosis. With horribly bad breath, enemy troops wouldn't be able to blend in with civilians, making them easy to identify. The downside is that it would also negate the effects of the love bomb, since nothing kills a sex drive like killer morning breath.

Ultimately, all these ideas were turned down by the Pentagon. Captain Dan McSweeney of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate told the BBC they receive "literally hundreds" of project ideas similar to this one, but none of Wright Labs' suggestions ever made it past the proposal stage.

Still, the Non-Lethal Lads of Dayton shouldn't give up, just because of one little setback. There are a lot of devices and agents they could create. How about a chemical that makes people want to watch Oprah and boxes of eat diet cookies? Or an amber liquid that, when drunk in large quantities, makes fast cars driving around in circles exciting? Or a device that makes people forget about all the important global current events, and focus all their attention on Paris Hilton's prison stay?

Boy, it's a good thing no one has invented those things yet.

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