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British Soldiers Get Germ-Fighting Undies 280

Ant writes "Yahoo! News reports that British soldiers will be getting germ-fighting underwear. The antimicrobial underpants have been introduced by the Ministry of Defense as part of a new desert uniform for soldiers. They are the first undergarments issued to British troops, who traditionally have had to supply their own. Military officials said Thursday the unisex trunks were made from artificial fibers for comfort, with silver particles woven into the material to prevent sweating. "It is coated to prevent bacterial infection, and we have tried to arrange the seams so that they don't chafe," Col. Silas Suchanek, who led the team that procured the new equipment, said Thursday."
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British Soldiers Get Germ-Fighting Undies

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  • by Nairoz ( 856164 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @12:59AM (#13360336)
    ... how long til they get the rest of their equipment?

    The British army is woefully underequipped... but hey, as long as they've got pants and tea, they'll be fine!
    • And to make sure they have plenty of tea forever, I suggest we start a "Teabag the British" volunteer campaign.
    • On a serious note... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vivin ( 671928 ) <vivin DOT paliath AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @02:12AM (#13360568) Homepage Journal
      How long before the US Army follows suit?

      I enlisted four and a half years ago in the Army National Guard, and in two weeks time I'm actually leaving for Iraq. As per the regulation, we are supposed to wear the Army issue briefs. That's what we did during Basic Training - but God knows those things aren't made for comfort. They chafe, and once you've been in the field for a few weeks - well, let's just say that the risk of infection increases. Which is why it pays to carry a lot of baby wipes and Gold Bond.

      I actually wear boxers instead of the standar-issue briefs now and it is definitely more comfortable. But anyway, now that I'm headed for the desert, I wouldn't mind having this nifty new underwear - I hope the US Army takes up this good idea. You don't realize how much you take the little things for granted until you're out in the field and out of clean pairs of underwear.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2005 @02:44AM (#13360632)
        You're in the f'in Army. Go commando. Quit being a pussy.
        • ;) You'd be surprised how much protection a pair of boxers offer!
        • Actually, the only time I ever wore undergarments was when we were out in the cold, and I had to go with polypropelene leggings and undershirt. The rest of the time we did all go commando. The trick to staying comfortable is to not develop moisture and the resulting chafing. When you're running around constantly getting sweaty, going commando is the only way to go.

          Anecdote: Our battallion was in the middle of a training rotation at the National Training Center in the desert that is Ft. Irwin, CA. At the c

      • by tloh ( 451585 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @02:52AM (#13360643)
        Victoria's Secret announced the imminent launch of their new "Patriot" line.
      • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @03:40AM (#13360751) Homepage
        If you ever go climbing or hiking, you will know how much of a difference really good underwear and socks makes. You can wear anything else - I do climb mountains wearing jeans and sweatshirts, much to the goretex brigade's horror - but if you've got your socks and your boxers right, all the rest will follow.

        Conversely you'd be amazed how miserable chafing underwear and sweaty socks can make you, and how quickly.

      • "How long before the US Army follows suit?"

        You know how the army is; it'll take them a couple years if ever. I'm 9 months in the desert right now (so close to coming home!) and it's really cooking. I use Under Armour boxers and they work great. They're kinda expensive (around $20), but it's the best thing you're gonna get atm.

      • Wow, that's madness! Must be the difference between Army and Air Guard or maybe your unit. In the Air Guard, the last time I was issued undies was in Basic Training and I've been responsible for the resupply since then.

        Underware, T-Shirts, and socks are my top priority for a deployment... especially when the laundry facilities are unknown. Boxer-Briefs all the way.

        Mostly I'm responding to say good luck on your deployment and get home safe.

      • In reality, most people in SWA don't follow the apperance regulations fully. Unlike being stationed back in the States, in Iraq it's business first; or at least that's the way it used to be during the initial stages. The last trip I was on the Wing Commander didn't like that people were hanging sunglasses on their flight suits, lol. I hate stupid regulations, just let me do my job. Who the fuck cares if I hang my sunglasses on my uniform? Or roll up my sleeves? (not that I'm bitter or anything)

        This all c
      • Vivin:

        You might want to invest in some higher-quality underwear before you ship out. I'd recommend Smartwool or Ibex wool skivvies. There's a reason why desert-dwellers wear a lot of wool.

        If nothing else, if you run into any Brits that don't like the new issue stuff, you might be able to trade. I'd also try the Fox River X-Static silver-threaded anti-bacterial socks. I've been using them for years, and they work very well.

        Also, believe it or not, baby diaper rash ointment is a great thing to keep around. I
    • ... how long til they get the rest of their equipment?

      Indeed, I would petition for six day underwear [] (scroll down).

      Three leg holoes. Rotate once per day, then turn inside out for the next three. Go a couple times between washes and you've got nearly a fortnight!
    • ...but hey, as long as they've got pants and tea, they'll be fine!

      SHUUUUT UP! ...Er, lovely boy...

    • by szaz ( 890101 )
      Don't believe everything you read in the tabloids. I serve with the British Army, and when it comes down to it, we get what we need, and what we do get is damn good.
    • Unlike the Brits the Scottish always have all the equipment they need, even without underwear!
  • Sand? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NullAgent ( 840366 )
    Well do they keep out sand?
  • Umm.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by kcbrown ( 7426 ) <> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:00AM (#13360341)
    Don't us Slashdot types (myself excluded, of course. ;-) need this more than soldiers do?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:00AM (#13360343)
    The underpants gnomes finally figured out the missing part of the plan.

    Step 1. Steal underpants.
    Step 2. Sell to the military (ta-daaa).
    Step 3. Profit!
    • by sillybilly ( 668960 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:47AM (#13360881)
      More like ask the female soldiers to send their used underpants to your prison inmates.
      Little do they know you just want those panties for your massive silver extraction operation!

      That reminds me the joke:

      I'll do anything

      A man was sitting at a bar enjoying an
      after-work cocktail when an exceptionally
      gorgeous young woman entered. She was so
      striking that the man could not take his
      eyes away from her. The young woman noticed
      his overly-attentive stare & walked directly
      toward him.

      Before he could offer his apologies for
      being so rude, the young woman said
      to him, 'I'll do anything, absolutely
      anything, that you want me to do, no
      matter what it is, for $100 on one

      Flabbergasted, the man asked what the
      condition was.

      The young woman replied, 'You have to tell
      me what you want me to do in just three

      The man considered her proposition for a
      moment, withdrew his wallet from his pocket &
      slowly counted out five $20 bills, which he
      pressed into the young woman's hand.

      He looked deeply into her eyes & slowly,
      meaningfully said, 'Paint my house.'
    • by Mensa Babe ( 675349 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @05:01AM (#13360905) Homepage Journal
      There's a picture on Wikipedia []. It stops a lot of germs []. Impressive.
  • Ministry of Defense (Score:5, Informative)

    by a.different.perspect ( 817184 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:02AM (#13360347) Journal
    Really, we should defer to the UK's right to name its own institutions and call it the "Ministry of Defence", just like Pearl Harbor should not be "Pearl Harbour" or "Perl Harbor" (as I've been admittedly prone to think).
  • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:02AM (#13360348)
    unisex trunks

    ...nuff said.
  • by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:02AM (#13360351) Journal
    Well, it's another development in our war to eradicate biological agents in our war on terror.

    If you locate a hazardous bacterial sample, simply find a British soldier and drop it down his pants.
  • Oh yeah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:03AM (#13360354)
    Then the germs evolve and become resistant to silver and we're in REAL trouble.
  • Wow, war even drives innovation when it comes to clothing fashion. Seriously, these underwear seem to be really great. I wonder if the British Army will open up their own Yahoo! store and sell these underwear...
  • by DrIdiot ( 816113 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:10AM (#13360381)
    Join the Army!
    No? Well... now comes with complimentary free underwear!

    If the number of British army enlistees suddenly skyrockets in the next month, we'll all know why.

  • Infertility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 882444 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:11AM (#13360385)
    Considering testicles don't like high temperatures, (it's one of the reasons we have them in a sack outside our body, and why everyone should use boxers) what are the chances that these new undies will cause damage to the soldiers testicles since they are stoping them from properly regulating their temperature by sweating, in a desert no less?
    • Re:Infertility (Score:4, Informative)

      by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:45AM (#13360495)
      It doesn't cause permanent damage.

      It just makes the sperm currently being produced less effective. Go back to boxers, and you're fine within a 'production cycle' which I think is something like 30 or 45 days.

      I doubt soldiers in a warzone are particularly interested in maintaining maximum fertility.
    • Re:Infertility (Score:5, Informative)

      by DuckofDeath87 ( 816504 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:47AM (#13360508)
      For one thing, these look like boxers. For another, wearing breifs prevent your testicles from moving so much. This prevents Testicular torsion (yes it is real). []

      Though, I do wonder if the heat problem is as bad as you say. Any one have any reliable websites?
      • Somehow I think that cavemen running after a wooly mammoth weren't wearing briefs. I assume that humans have evolved with males not restricting natural movements of their scrotums. Stopping that may reduce the risk of some maladies, but cutting of your arms will also reduce your risk of developing carpal tunnel.
    • I think it's an error. Adding silver to clothing will give it anti-microbial properties, which is very desirable. I have never heard that it reduces or prevents sweating, which would be a bad thing in any climate, let alone a desert. All of the commercial high-end undergarments advertised for this sort of thing claim to wick moisture away from the skin, increasing the efficiency of sweating, they do not stop it.
    • Considering testicles don't like high temperatures, (it's one of the reasons we have them in a sack outside our body, and why everyone should use boxers) what are the chances that these new undies will cause damage to the soldiers testicles since they are stoping them from properly regulating their temperature by sweating, in a desert no less?

      No lasting damage is being done wearing briefs it's just lowering (slightly) your sperm count. Wearing boxers is only an issue if you're trying to get a chick pregnan
  • by tashammer ( 905647 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:14AM (#13360399)
    The silver threads in the knickers are a good idea. That means if a werewolf bites him/her on the arse or crotch that the soldier will be protected.

    I didn't know that the British armed forces were into the occult and supernatural.

    It aint a reassuring thought.
  • Unisex? Hello! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tbo ( 35008 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:15AM (#13360400) Journal
    WTF? I can understand unisex "outer" uniforms, but the idea of unisex underwear is plain stupid. Is the British Army trying to pretend that men and women are exactly the same, even "down there"?

    From the picture, the underwear look like standard men's boxers, except without the front flap. Why leave out the front flap in men's underwear? Probably because they had to make a concession to these being "unisex", and a flap is clearly a male-only feature. Also, what about guys who prefer briefs?

    The end result is that men will have a harder time freeing willie to irrigate the desert, and women will be forced to wear what are essentially men's underwear (and, I would imagine, are less comfortable for women--correct me if I'm wrong).
    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:20AM (#13360415) Homepage Journal
      Actually they look stretchy, like bicycle shorts. This means they should be able to accommodate either a cameltoe or a buck-knuckle.

    • by LiNKz ( 257629 ) * on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:22AM (#13360426) Homepage Journal
      ...women will be forced to wear what are essentially men's underwear (and, I would imagine, are less comfortable for women--correct me if I'm wrong)...

      This is just a dodgy attempt at getting a random geek-girl to talk about her undies ;)
    • Well, if they're anything like boxers... chicks will love them.

      You have no idea how many girls wear boxers to bed cause they're more comfy.
    • Flap? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EvilMidnightBomber ( 778018 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @03:38AM (#13360743) Homepage
      Why leave out the front flap in men's underwear?

      Not trolling, but seriously, does anybody actually use that thing? When I go to a public urinal, I want speed and stealth i.e., a commando raid. The last thing on earth I'm looking for is to get caught playing fabric origami just to access the plumbing. Or is the purpose actually to act as a squeegee during retraction to minimize the chances to shake your leg afterward?
      • Damn right I use it! The last thing I want to be doing is faffing about pulling my boxers down at the front, especially when drunk as that carries with it the risk of spring back... *shudder*

        I have a single pair of boxers without flap or buttons, and while they're lovely to wear (nice material, good fit, etc), they're a pain to visit a urinal wearing.
      • Re:Flap? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Agreed. I hate the flap. It's much easier to just pull the elastic waistband down a little and pull out my wang to pee.
    • (and, I would imagine, are less comfortable for women--correct me if I'm wrong)...

      Jesus, I wish that were the case. My GF keeps stealing my underwear to wear when all hers need to be washed. If some guy could invent underwear that is comfy for men, but uncomfortable for women, I'd buy fifty pair.
      • On the other side, many a Slashdot geek would be so lucky to have a girlfriend (real one - the bot from UT2004 doesn't count) to steal his underwear...
    • Willie for women (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fullon604 ( 895424 )
      I have just the solution for the female soldier on the go -- []
  • Well we now finally know how the underpants gnome wind up at "PROFIT!"
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:20AM (#13360417) Homepage Journal
    The site I have the pictures on is down, but hopefully I can give a detailed enough explanation of what happened to me last year to make folks realize the importance of anti bacterial undies.

    I was sittin on the toilet one day and noticed a swollen ingrown hair to the right of my right testicle. I tried to pluck the hair out, followed by squeezing the little bastard. Nothing was coming out, so I said, "fuck it" and just left it at that.

    During the week, it developed from an ingrown hair to a very painful boil. It got to the point where I could hardly walk anymore and had to see the doctor.

    Soon as the doctor saw it, he said "We're going to have to lance it". Kaiser usually doesn't give out painkillers if they can avoid it (once had a broken toe and they refused me pain meds) Luckily I had a male doctor, and I think that fact made him more sympathetic to my pain.

    He numbed the spot up, then poked the spot with a scalpel, probably going in about 2-3 centimeteres, followed by some very painful squeezing to get all the crap out of the bacterial playground that had formed next to my nutsack.

    I thought that was it, but nope. The doctor said "We have to leave a wick in there so it heals right" A wick? WTF? Basically a wick is a peice of cotton gauze stuck in the hole where the boil used to be. This prevents the opening of the wound from sealing up, and allows the hole to heal from the bottom up.

    For the next month, I had to make daily trips to kaiser to have the wick removed, and replaced. The first wick was over a foot in length! Every week the wicks got shorter and shorter until they finally told me it no longer needed a wicking.

    I can totally see these types of bacterial infections knocking out a soldier for a month. For me, I could not walk without popping 2 or 3 vicodin after they inserted the wick. At least I had the luxery of my house, high speed internet, and cable TV (not much interneting during this ordeal, as it was very hard to sit)


    OH Ps, im typing this live while i'm at work at the karaoke bar, watch the live stream here and say hi :) []
    • by Mornelithe ( 83633 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:28AM (#13360450)
      Sweet Jesus, man! That's the worst story I've heard in months! I'd recommend keeping that to yourself.

      Don't anyone dare modding this man up. Think of the children!
    • Times like these call for a mod -1: too much information.
    • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:43AM (#13360490) Homepage Journal
      I hate to comment on my own comment to bitch about moderation, but I noticed a few comments below mine stating that it should be downmodded.

      Look, this is what happened to me. Like it or not. The comment came from my heart, formed by my own personal experience. Sure, it's gory, sure it's detailed, but this is exactly what happens to folks when bacterial infections happen. Boils form on the skin, and in the crotch area, this makes for a very debilitating condition. Like I said, I had the luxery of my house, soldiers in Iraq don't have the same immenities that I have.

      Just a follow up, after this happened my wife and I started buying anti bacterial soap. Since then, I haven't had so much as a zit on my legs. Before the boil, I showered every day but with regular old soap. Regular soap just isn't enough to prevent this from happening. Just one juicy bit of info I read on antibacterial soaps, you have to leave them on the skin for at least 2 minutes for the active ingredient to work.

      So please mods, don't downmod my parent post. It was completely on topic and showed the dangers of bacterial infections of the crotch. Thank you.

      • by mdfst13 ( 664665 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @06:54AM (#13361097)
        "Just a follow up, after this happened my wife and I started buying anti bacterial soap."

        Yep, so now you are breeding bacteria that are immune to anti-bacterial agents. Eventually, you will have just as much bacteria as when you started, but you will no longer have the option of applying an anti-bacterial agent when you need it. E.g. when you have an open sore that needs to heal.

      • I recall a summer that I commenced by indulging in bowls after bowls of pears that were sold cheaply at a nearby supermarket. Unknown to me at the time, till I read it later on in a book, my avid consumption of this fruit caused me to have a candidal infection that soon got so bad the skin on my scrotum was not only red, insanely itchy and painful but was also peeling off. Chocolate too had a similar effect, worsening the itch. I could hardly walk, and on some days I couldn't at all, with all I could do b
  • by Rejemy ( 78237 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @01:58AM (#13360540) Homepage
    I got my silver underwear from REI several years ago for mountaineering. What sold me was mostly the reduction of odors, since when you're on a mountain, you're wearing that sweaty underwear for two days of solid work! Highly recommended.
  • by wolvie_cobain ( 410751 ) <> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @02:02AM (#13360548) Homepage
    hey! thinfoil underwear!!

  • Suppose we could get a pair of these knickers to the goatse guy? Looks like he could use some germ fighting action in that area of his body.
  • yeah yeah (Score:2, Funny)

    by pintomp3 ( 882811 )
    but do they have an anti-skid feature? it would be a shame to have u'r silver undies look like a shiny drag strip.
  • Athletes will probably enjoy anti-chafe undies as well. At the moment the best alternative is the UnderArmor brand's line of underwear. The difference in comfort is considerable. After 2 or so hours of running I'd normally come back with painful rashes, 3 hours and they may even bleed slightly. The sleek underarmor fabric keeps things sliding painlessly and kept this from happening, as opposed to normal cotton boxers.

    The problem is the $20 dollar pricetag per pair! Even if it isn't really better than the Un
  • by sita ( 71217 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @03:50AM (#13360772)
    An infrastructure for supplying the troops with clean underwear, silver magic or not, is second in importance only to supply of food and ammunition (well, communications and...well, it is quite important).

    If you don't change underwear regularly you are bound to get very nasty rashes in just a few days (which will put you out of any useless service). If you leave it to the individual serviceman to supply his own trunks, then there is a high risk some won't change them often enough.

    I would guess that underwear lasts longer in desert climate than in more temperate climates due to that the sweat evaporates faster and leaves less time for the germs to grow, but all the same anti-germ underwear seems like a good idea. You increase the underwear changing interval which means you can cut back on the supplies organization (and the individual soldiers don't have to carry as many pairs of underwear).
  • I suppose that the price/value ratio of military underwear with silver content is better than $100 hammers? :D
    But this may DEFINITELY be bad for POWs. So far the captors didn't find any value in there...
  • by Duhavid ( 677874 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @03:55AM (#13360782)
    German soldiers get Brit-Fighting undies.
  • by Muhammar ( 659468 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @03:56AM (#13360784)
    The metallized silverfoil undies will show up on radar.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    and we have tried to arrange the seams so that they don't chafe,

    So, they're wearing them inside-out then.

    Coincidently, I do this half the time in my underwear 4-day rotational schedule (forwards, backwards, inside-out forwards, inside-out backwards).

    *scratch scratch*

    Now, where's that stench coming from?
  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @04:42AM (#13360871) Homepage
    I would rather see underwear that is prone to limit the growth of fungus. Socks, pants and (for our female military, bras.)

    Athlete's foot is one of the more common problems while infections may occur as a result of untreated injuries. (untreated fungal infections may also lead to bacterial infections if not properly treated.)

    You actually don't want to get rid of all bacteria, since some bacteria are actually good for you and helps keeping the bad bacteria out.

    Another issue is that there is a risk of getting multi-resistent bacteria that is harder to treat if you expose bacteria to antibiotics for a prolonged time. This is one reason why you shouldn't treat virus infections with antibiotics - it has no effect on the virus.

  • US Forces (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThoreauHD ( 213527 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @05:08AM (#13360920)
    Most US Forces use Under Armor underwear. It doesn't have silver to prevent bacteria, as far as I know, but it seems to last forever and keep sweat and chaffing away. I think they wash their clothes in the US, so maybe silver particles were not on the top of their list. []
  • USMC issue (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jašana ( 125042 ) *
    I, along with many many other Marines in Iraq, was recently issued something that sounds very similar. I actually haven't even worn mine yet favoring the Under Armour I purchased myself before deploying. A note on the silver fiber, though. First, judging from experience of the others who have worn it, nothing in it prevents sweating. And second, according to the tags, at least, the silver is what prevents microbial growth.
  • The headline gave me a Simpsons flashback moment... fade to grey...

    Homer sees Lisa reading Wired magazine, grabs it and goes on about how much he likes 'Weird magazine', thinks GigaBytes is some kind of joke, then discards the magazine when he realizes it isn't 'Weird', but 'Wired'. The cover had a picture of a strangely Bill Gate-ish character wearing, what the headline claims are 'Electric Underpants' - 'Virtually Wedgie Proof' - 'Do we really need them?'
  • It's mithril mail [], for their privates! And officers too, I expect. Bed and breakfast in Isengard!
  • We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight them in our under-pants.
  • So, I take it that Highlanders are exempt?
    Or are kilts just for dress uniforms?

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik