Military Stench: Stink Warfare In Today's World
In bygone days, along with the slain soldiers that littered fields in the aftermath of a major skirmish, there would have been dozens or even hundreds of dead horses adding their perfume to that of their expired riders. When Hannibal used elephants in warfare, only God knows what manner of stink was released from their rotting carcasses after they swelled to the approximate size of the Goodyear blimp. He may have had to plunge his holy face into a nosegay as the aroma, so different from the incense and burnt offerings he was accustomed to, came wafting heavenward.
A personal friend who is a combat veteran told me that, along with the acrid smell of cordite, a field where a violent firefight is underway can smell rather strongly of human shit. Faced with the eminent possibility of death it is not unheard of to soil one's pants. Stench has always been associated with war but how often has it been actually used as a weapon?
Using foul smells as a weapon has some problems associated with it. Members of some cultures or ethnic groups could have the propensity for just shrugging off a smell that might leave another heaving and gasping for air. A Swede who dines on Surströmming would probably just salivate if he were subjected to the smell of rotting fish; that being said, he might even be able to endure the aroma of a bean and green onion fart.
Back in the days when Viking warriors sailed the high seas on missions of pillage and raping, it was probably a daily occurrence for a bleary eyed Sven or Olaf to hang his furry ass over the side of the dragon ship and loose a barrage of yesterday's pork and turnips, washed down with cheap mead, into the briny deeps. The fumes would have probably reached the nostrils of the other Norse warriors and thus helped make their nostrils impervious to future assaults by lesser stenches.
The US government has done some experimental work on developing a stink bomb that actually works as a deterrent. During World War II, the French Resistance developed a compound called "Who Me." Who Me smelled like, well, shit. Some ingenious Frog decided it should be dispensed from pocket atomizers. When one of the Resistance could get close to an occupying Nazi officer, he would pump the atomizer, much like we might do now with the present-day product Liquid Ass (which can be purchased here. The premise that was the officers would be so humiliated by the perception that they exuded The Funk that they would lose their social power and personal mojo, ultimately resulting in a loss for Germany.
No, this did not work. Let us consider the pyramid of necessities for a minute: When you're on the march with several hundred or several thousand comrades in arms, bathing facilities will probably be few and far between. Once you get used to the smell of several thousand unwashed armpits, fermenting crotches, and the occasional dysentery dribble, the enemy would be hard-pressed to toss something more offensive your way, including poop spray.
The French were not alone in their chemical hi-jinks. In the public sector, the Israel Defense Forces use a product made from baking powder, yeast, and other non-mentioned goodies called Skunk. Skunk is farted upon unruly crowds by a water cannon in arguably the World's largest version of the Wet Fart, falling and sticking to whatever surface upon which it lands--streets, people, pets ... your mom. The Israeli Defense Forces have been accused of being a tad liberal with the application, notably on Palestinians, but also on businesses and people near the protests as well as a form of Malodorous Collateral Damage. Your parents might have told you, once upon a time in your rebellious youth, that you might be held guilty by association if you hung out with the wrong crowd. In this case, you would stink by association as well.
If the smell is actually that of a skunk, then this weapon would be ineffective against some like me, because for some odd reason I don't find skunk musk to be that unpleasant. Lucky for the Israelis that my olfactory genetic prowess resides in the United States.
If one considers this type of warfare from the opposite point of view, then one sees there could be a solution to it. Years ago I totally lost my sense of smell. I had to have a series of laser procedures performed to regain it. I would imagine that if a sense of smell can be restored it can also be taken away. In future wars, an army of sense of smell deprived warriors may have to march into combat to protect our freedoms. With the loss of their senses of smell, barracks life might be more enjoyable on days that the chow-hall served up meals of beans and cabbage.