No, this is not an Onion story:
A war against Iraq will see the debut of some of the most sophisticated weaponry ever used. But U.S. troops will also rely on one of the most low-tech detection devices around: chickens. Worried that the pollution from blown oil installations will clog up complicated detection equipment and make it difficult to pick up deadly chemicals and nerve agents, U.S. marines and soldiers will drive into battle across the dusty plains of Iraq with caged chickens atop their Hum-Vees.
The chickens, which were otherwise destined for Kuwaiti dinner tables, will work in the same way as canaries in coal mines used to. Small traces of poisonous gases or chemical agent will kill the birds and warn troops to put on their gas masks. “A sky full of oil can mask some chemicals,” says Warrant Officer Jeff French, a nuclear, biological and chemical officer for a marine battalion in Kuwait. “Using chickens may sound basic but it’s still one of the best ways we have of detecting chemical agent.”