Wednesday, August 17, 2005

If you think it's hot here, you should try Iraq.......

...........with full body armour no less. It's so hot in Iraq right now that the average person from North America can't comprehend it. Around here in Toronto we are having are a record hot summer with temperatures consistently above 30 degrees Celcius and into the high 40's with the humidity off Lake Ontario. But Iraq is off the scale. I've read a number of posts in various Soldiers blogs but none so eloquently describe what American Soldiers are dealing with (besides the terrorists) than Thunder6. If you are following the War on Terror you should be reading Thunder6. Here's two of his posts on the topic of heat:

August 16, 2005

We are all in thrall to the fulgid patriarch that boils the summer sky. In Baghdad the sun claims dominion over all, there is no sector of the city that doesn’t bow before its scathing wrath. The sun is utterly pitiless; those foolish enough to shed tears in the blistering onslaught would find the drops evaporating before they hit the ground.

The heat is manageable, even with body armor. Miserable, but manageable. The sheer force of the sun is another matter entirely. The rays burn down with such force that the palm groves here rain down boiling sap. And manmade structures fare much, much worse.

Yesterday our patrol linked up with an armored task force and we fell in line behind some M1 Abrams tanks. As soon as we settled in behind the tank we noticed it was leaving soot black impressions on the roads as it rolled by. It seemed like some massive stamp pad was leaving a breadcrumb trail of hundreds of jet impressions in perfectly symmetrical lines.

It took us less then a minute to realize the superheated asphalt was literally melting the tanks rubber track pads. Boots suffer the same fate, if you stand in place too long you will often find the spongy roads have settled around your soles like so much boiling tar.

I’m really starting to miss the rainy season... even if it does mean ankle deep mud.

August 14, 2005

Range Day

The M4 carbine is a lethal tool, but in the end it is just that… a tool. The situation profoundly changes when that tool is placed in the hands of a trained infantryman. It is as if the two exist in some martial symbiosis; each taking, each giving. When an infantryman picks up a rifle those carefully machined components stop being callous collections of metal and become the fluid extension of his will. The catalyst for this hybridization isn’t some technological marvel – it’s the natural result of trigger time.

When I say trigger time I’m not referring to pressing a button on a video console. Comparing first person shooting games to combat marksmanship is like comparing a ride on the plastic pony in front of a supermarket with saddling up a thoroughbred. If you want to be deadly accurate there is no substitute for being on a range.

This of course means that even here in Baghdad we have to set up firing ranges to hone our marksmanship skills. Today I was tasked with serving as the OIC (Officer In Charge) of the firing range while Killer Company’s platoons confirmed their optics.

Under most circumstances I would jump at the chance to spend a day on the range; but today wasn't just hot, it was infernal. The sun flared like with star gone nova, the heat compunded by our thick layers of body armor. By time the range was ready to go I was well on my way to being parboiled. As the trapped pools of sweat started soaking through my uniform all I wanted was to get away from the crushing heat. Since that wasn’t a viable option I just focused on watching platoon after platoon fire their weapon. Out of sheer curiosity I pulled out a small backpacking thermometer to index the misery. The little thermometer made it to 122 degrees before the heat burned out the LCD.

When it gets this hot you have to drink water in great heaving swallows even when you don’t feel thirsty. If you are drinking too much, too fast you will know in less then a minute - the only thing more uncomfortable then wrapping yourself in an armored sauna is the bloated feeling that comes from having water slosh around your distended stomach. As the hours ticked by I emptied bottle after bottle and watched as a slow parade of troops confirmed their accuracy. Despite the sun’s bright tirade the day passed without incident and the range came to a successful conclusion. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fun, but in the end every troop on came away knowing that their weapons were once again dutiful agents of their will. And that knowledge is a very valuable thing indeed.

You can read his excellent posts here:

1 comment:

waltoncad said...

Just stopped by your blog to say hi! My wife and I remember your comments left frequently over at Questingcat and we thought to add you to her blogroll...

Questingcat earned his EIB (Expert Infantrymans Badge)last week to go with his CIB, and told me that his unit (still the Big Red One) was getting lots of new guys, straight out of Fort Benning and that they are going into a very intense training cycle. He actually told me to "read into it what you will" and that he hopes to get out and go back to college (he dropped out and enlisted so that he could go to Iraq). He considers it likely that he will go back, and won't resist if he is ordered to, but will not be happy about it either.

On the other hand, my wife who always posted as myadidas is likely headed over there in the next few weeks...If you have some time please stop by!