Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Observation of the day: On brewing coffee with C4

During an email discussion of the explosive used by the testicle-toasting terrorist of Detroit, my friend retired Col. John Meyer commented on his own use of the stuff — and offered a warning. “I’ve heated many a cup of coffee on C4, rolled into little balls,” he said. “The trick was to never try to ...

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BEIRUT, LEBANON - APRIL 28: Beirut residents sit next to their coffee truck and watch a building collapse 26 April 1992 after a controlled explosion during demolition work in the Lebanese capital. The city is beginning to rebuild after 16 years of civil strife. (Photo credit should read NABIL ISMAEL/AFP/Getty Images)

During an email discussion of the explosive used by the testicle-toasting terrorist of Detroit, my friend retired Col. John Meyer commented on his own use of the stuff -- and offered a warning. "I've heated many a cup of coffee on C4, rolled into little balls," he said. "The trick was to never try to stamp out the fire when you were finished."

During an email discussion of the explosive used by the testicle-toasting terrorist of Detroit, my friend retired Col. John Meyer commented on his own use of the stuff — and offered a warning. “I’ve heated many a cup of coffee on C4, rolled into little balls,” he said. “The trick was to never try to stamp out the fire when you were finished.”

Asked to explain this use of C4, he added:

The small balls of C4 used to heat rations were about the size of spitballs.  C4 can be ignited with a match.  As one ball would burn out, you rolled another up next to it, so it would ignite.  We used a modified C-ration can for a stove.  One side was cut open, so there was plenty of air for the ‘rapid combustion.’

As a side note, long before there was a Starbucks, we figured our C4 heated coffee was pretty expensive.  A one-pound block of C4 was reported to cost about $90. 

NABIL ISMAEL/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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