The sun has been pitiless these last few days, doubling and redoubling its radiant energy until everything stationary shimmers in its own invisible pyre. The sputtering coughs of wind that limp across the cracked soil lack any real force; it’s as if the temperatures have cowed the air into refusing to stir. In these temperatures nothing moves without purpose. The troops that have to move back and forth across the FOB move along deliberate paths, their heads slightly bowed in unconscious deference to the flashbulb brilliance.
Now that we are several weeks into this withering season our cycles of work and rest have come to mirror the desert creatures that creep and slither through this harsh land. As is so often the case, we’ve had to slowly relearn the lessons nature hardwired into the native wildlife. The biggest key to surviving the temperatures is to (surprise, surprise) avoid the sun. Our barracks serve the same purpose as the desert creatures underground haunts – they both offer reservoirs of chill air. The only difference is our concrete berths hum to the steady whir of overworked air conditioning units.
Soldiers who decide to be infantryman don't join for the luxurious acomodations. That doesn't make it any easier to leave the air conditioned barracks, but it does help muster the will to keep heading out those doors into the atmospheric inferno. The sun isn't the only cruel taskmaster, the sheer weight of our combat equipment more then doubles the misery index. The thick ballistic carapace that we all wear is a life saver, but on days like this it seems to be a karmic bank selling protection in exchange for hour after hour of broiling misery. When you are wearing slabs of ceramic armor evaporative cooling becomes impossible, the sweat just soaks through layer after layer until your uniform is a sodden, salt encrusted mess. It is a pain, but nobody really worries to much about coming away from a mission soaked. We have a lot more to worry about then how to leach salt from a uniform.