This week has seen a dramatic increase in temperature. The thermometer at one checkpoint in Tuz area reached 117 degrees earlier this week. Only a couple of the Humvees on the base have working air conditioning, and the Hummers’ engines join with the desert climate to heat the vehicles to the point where the men all but have griddle marks. The lack of A/C makes it nearly impossible for the troops to travel windows-up as they should to take full advantage of the bulletproof glass (or “transparent armor”). While the vehicles are perpetually filled with plenty of 1.5 liter bottles of water, the liquid becomes so hot that you could make instant coffee without the aid of a microwave. And the good news is that it only gets hotter from here.
Add this heat to the fact that a lot of the guys have been suffering from Saddam’s revenge recently (the chow hall was found to have been using non-potable water to make its coffee and juice), and you have a recipe for trouble. For example, on a recent mission to the village of Albu Najm, Spc. Russ began to show signs of dehydration, and was not able to keep any water down. When we returned to base, it took the medic several attempts to find a vein that would take an IV without collapsing, and when he finally succeeded, it took two large IV bags to restore hydration. The guys joke that if they don’t get the A/C in the vehicles fixed soon, then they should just run the missions hooked up to IVs.