Velcro not great for sandbox play (or war), says military


What could a mother of small children offer to the U.S. military? Some feedback, perhaps, about how badly hook-and-pile tape -- the generic term for Velcro -- holds up in a sandbox. In 2004, the Army switched to hook-and-pile tape for a number of the things formerly secured by the ancient technology of buttons and needle-and-thread, including pocket and pants closures, name patches, rank insignia, and (in a decision that always baffled me), the little U.S. flag patch.

In Afghanistan and other sandy places where so many U.S. troops are now stationed, however, there is a problem with hook-and-pile tape: it's highly ineffective when filled with sand. Pants falling off and important items falling out of pockets makes for an Army that is hard to take seriously. And if the soldiers have figured out how to clear the hooks and piles with creative solutions -- a small weapons cleaning brush works very well, says the Army's website -- it's also noisy. This can be, well, inconvenient in battle situations.