It's no secret that the Middle East is one of the hottest places on earth. However, even when time and effort has been spent preparing for it -- including hikes and runs in the heat of the day in Atlanta, Israel, and Jordan -- there still is nothing that can keep down the sinking feeling that comes when, upon landing in Kuwait City in the early evening, the pilot says "the temperature in KC is 118 degrees Fahrenheit" -- and the Kuwaiti lady sitting next to you says, "Praise Allah -- a cool day!"
The feeling is probably best described as akin to being in front of a blast furnace and, while I've experienced it more than once before, it's not something that a person can get used to -- and that's before donning long sleeves, long pants, wool socks, boots, gloves, twenty pounds of body armor, water, and a helmet (and, in the case of the soldiers, pounds of weaponry, radios, and ammo, and in the case of a journalist like myself, pounds of cameras, batteries, HD tapes and cards), which, of course, increase the body's temperature exponentially.
Add to that foot patrols which cover mulitple kilometers, and being on-guard at all times, and one has little choice but to marvel at the heart and perseverance America's soldiers have just to survive in such a situaion -- let alone to excel in their assigned missions.
The forecast for today in Baghdad is 112 degrees Fahrenheit; tomorrow's is 114. As more than one person remarked to me en route and at the airport yesterday: "Allah help you in this heat."
Thanks. I think we might all need a little Allah helping us out in this weather.Jeff Emanuel, a special operations military veteran who served in Iraq, will be reporting from "Inside the Surge" in that country throughout August and September. In order to perform this mission, he is entirely dependent on the generosity of his readers; so, if you are so inclined, please consider clicking the link at right and donating to help support his effort.