4The U.S. Army Is Defeated by a Cross-Dressing Enemy
Five minutes in a history class will teach you that America wasn't always the good guy in every story. Case in point: Thanks to the Spanish-American War and a little something known as imperialism, the U.S. found itself in possession of the Philippines in 1898, which is a whole other story for a whole other day. And as usual, the occupied country wasn't having it and rebelled. Thus the Spanish-American War segued nicely into the Philippine-American War and American troops ended up holding the Filipino town of Balangiga. Not "holding" like hugging, but "holding" like "starving out" and "offending locals" in as many ways as they could manage.
There's not a lot of hugging in imperial occupation, sadly.
The townspeople wanted the Americans out, but the Americans had something they didn't: guns. All the rebels had going for them was a little more manpower, alcohol, and Filipino ingenuity.
The Cartoonish Plan:
Get the Americans drunk and sneak more rebels into the town by dressing them up as women. And yes, it worked.
Making it the first war to ever call for "Yakety Sax" in the documentary soundtrack.
The whole scheme was actually more complicated and less Bugs Bunnyish than that, but not by much. The rebels wanted to attack the American base, but they didn't want their women and children put in jeopardy, so the non-fighters were sent away to safety the night before the raid. But a village suddenly devoid of women might look suspicious, like a night without stars or a Lady Gaga without hilarious joke clothes. So the rebels not only threw on some dresses, but put together a fake funeral procession. Inside the coffins were -- you guessed it -- more dresses! Just kidding, it was knives.
Presumably carried by guys arguing over which badass one-liner rhymes best with "pall bearer."
Imagine this scene from the perspective of the American soldiers: Thanks to local generosity and the occasion of the town's anniversary, you've been plied with ample alcohol for the night. Drunk as shit, you spot the unprettiest women you've ever seen in your life making their way into the chapel. And they're carrying either oddly shaped suitcases or tiny coffins. Do you investigate? One American dared to disrupt the procession, opening a coffin with his bayonet. To his horror, there was the body of a dead child in it. So he presumably apologized profusely and cried a little bit at what he'd become. Little did he know there were weapons in the other coffins.
By six the next morning, the guerrillas and locals were stationed in hidden spots around the barracks while the Americans were nursing hangovers and dragging themselves to the mess hall, completely unaware that they were about to get got. One fighter seized an American rifle and rang the church bell to signal the attack. American soldiers were confused to see all of the women strip down and reveal that -- surprise! -- they were armed soldiers all along. The next few hours were an unequivocal bloodbath. Of the 74 members of Company C, all but a dozen were killed or wounded in the surprise attack, plus the rebels got all their guns and ammo.
We'd tell you how the U.S. responded to the raid, but this isn't a list of straight up crimes against humanity, so we won't.
3Improvised Explosive Devices Defeated With RC Toys
You probably already know that the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing like the wars we've seen in Hollywood over the years. For example, most American deaths aren't a result of awesome firefights, but from homemade bombs detonated remotely. Road signs, cars, animal carcasses, people ... anything can carry a shrapnel bomb that can kill dozens. And the worst part is that there are few ways to detect an IED, because you can't tell you're in danger until you're about to meet Jesus.
There's one piece of good news in this awful story: The best defense against IEDs comes from an unlikely source, and it's not cute little dogs risking their lives. The best defense against improvised bombs is a child's toy.
The Cartoonish Plan:
When software engineer Ernie Fessenden heard about the IEDs killing American soldiers, he immediately worried about his brother stationed in Afghanistan, Staff Sargeant Chris Fessenden. But instead of posting a heartwarming meme and asking for "likes" on Facebook, he actually got out his tools and started on a project -- a remote control toy car that could trick bombs into detonating early.
Trucks To Troops
Making "vroom" noises isn't necessary for bomb sweeping, but it doesn't hurt.
The toy truck runs alongside real tanks like a faithful puppy, having a great time (as Toy Story has taught us that toy cars love to do). Only this toy car can be steered into threats and take the hit of improvised bombs before the sentient humans ever get hurt. And that was exactly what happened in 2011, when Fessenden's toy remote controlled truck detonated a bomb that was meant for six Humvee soldiers.
They affectionately named him "Fido."
The technique has been so effective that Fessenden developed a group called Trucks to Troops in order to fund even more RC cars to help protect U.S. soldiers. After spending millions of dollars upgrading vehicle armor and developing radio jammers to stop cell signals to no avail, the greatest threat to soldiers fighting in the Middle East today was defeated using something any kid could buy from his local toy store down the street.