KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Mar. 3, 2011) - Innovations in military equipment and tools are often the result of many hours of research and development, along with the expenditure of significant amounts of taxpayer dollars.

However, this need not be the case, as Cpl. Scott Mayer, a machinist of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, has shown by developing a universal key that will unlock all varieties of lock used to secure the doors on the Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected family of military vehicles.

The key is the result of Mayer's ability to identify a potential issue and come up with a simple, inexpensive solution that took him less than an hour to make in his welding shop.

"I'm a [machinist]," said the Lubbock, Texas, native, "and from day one we are taught to think outside the box to solve problems."

MRAP vehicles come in several different variants, each of which uses a different type of lock. Some variants even have as many as three different types of door locks on the same vehicle, all with a unique outer access point designed to allow them to be unlocked from the outside using the proper tool.

Creating a universal key that fits all locks could make a huge difference in responding to emergency situations when every second counts.

Mayer is currently working on more keys, intending build enough to supply each vehicle in 6-4 Cav.

"I just hope that, in urgent situations, we won't have to worry whether or not we have the right key," said Mayer, "and we can rely on one key to get us out of any vehicle.