One of the less heralded life-saving, and labor saving, devices in Iraq is the HESCO barrier. This is a collapsible wire mesh container with a heavy duty plastic liner. Open in up and use a front end loader to fill it with sand (dirt or gravel) and you have a protective barrier to protect personnel and equipment from enemy fire (or bombs). It's nearly as good as concrete blocks. Originally designed for use on beaches and marshes for erosion and flood control, the "HESCO Bastion" as it is officially known, quickly became a popular security device even before September 11, 2001. The device is named after the company that developed it over a decade ago, a British firm called HESCO.
The labor saving angle is very popular with the troops. Before the HESCO barriers, troops filled sandbags, which was slow. One soldier could fill about 20 sandbags an hour. Troops using HESCO barriers and a front end loader can do ten times the work of troops using sandbags. The HESCO barriers come in a variety of sizes designed for military work. Dimensions of these are (high, wide, long); 46x36x32(costing $651), 2x2x4 ($46.50), 33x33x32 ($493), 33x50x32 $740), 2x 2x10 ($98), 73x7x91 ($3,500), 46x4x32 ($665), 33x26x30 ($445), 7x5x100 ($3,700). There is also a special "bunker kit" for building bunkers. Most of the barriers can be stacked. The barriers are shipped collapsed and very compact. You quickly pull them open, then fill with sand or dirt. Filled with sand, 24 inches of barrier thickness will stop rifle bullets and shell fragments. It takes five feet of thickness to prevent penetration by an RPG round (although these usually do not hit at the right angle to need that much thickness, but just explode creating a lot of fragments.) About four feet of thickness will protect against most car bombs. The HESCO barriers have prevented hundreds of casualties among US troops and done wonders for morale.