What Happens To the Troops When It Is 122 Degrees In Iraq?

by James Glaser
August 12, 2003

We read about troops dying from falls off of buildings they are guarding. Other stories tell of troops dying from heat stroke and still others are about soldiers that let some Iraqi walk up behind them and blow their brains out.

No one will ever know for sure why soldiers are falling off of buildings, but the heat could very easily be a factor. Extreme heat and long hours can make a man or women less steady on their feet than they usually would be and one misstep at night near the edge of a building can kill you.

Troops are dying from heat stroke and again I believe that the long hours are doing these troops in. Heat stroke is preventable and troopers should be looking out for each other, making sure their buddy is taking in enough water. When the temperature gets over a hundred and twenty the uniforms and plastic armor our troops are forced to wear, can act like personal ovens. The combination of heat and fatigue cause troops to forget what they should be doing and it doesn't take all that long for dehydration to set in.

For the soldiers that get killed while waiting in line to buy a soda or some CDs, this lack of discipline can be attributed to the hours and heat again. These troops know that they are in a war zone and getting separated from your unit, even if by only a few yards opens you up to someone taking you out in a moment of opportunity. Soldiers and Marines are trained over and over again to watch each others back. Deaths like these happen in every war, but they are preventable and only happen when the troops start getting sloppy from over work.

Washington now knows that we are undermanned in Iraq, but they don't know what to do about it. This guerilla war was not supposed to happen and the Iraqi people were supposed to be on our side. Well like a lot of things in life, this war didn't work out the way we wanted.

One would think a country like ours would have contingency plans worked out for whatever happened, but it looks like this time we only had one plan and this one isn't working. We knew about this heat, in fact the Iraqi summer heat was talked about for months before this war started. The Generals knew what the heat would do to the performance of the troops and that is why they said we would need tens of thousands more troops in Iraq than we have. Washington and the Secretary of Defense said no, and that is why we are in the fix we are in now.

Men and women that are working long hours in this type of heat, month after month, with no time off to regroup and get their minds sharp again, are bound to suffer causalities that in another climate would never happen. Fatigue can cause highly trained soldiers to make dumb mistakes.

This high heat also causes short tempers and I am sure many Iraqi civilians have been shot and some killed because tempers flared on both sides. Our troops don't know the language and when your hot and tired, you can show your hate with facial expressions and body language that even little kids can pick up on.

The longer we are in Iraq with not enough men to do the job, with troops over extended and tired, suffering from extreme heat, the worse this situation is going to get. Our troops are already showing signs of burn out. Some are committing suicide, some are forgetting to take care of themselves, with that heatstroke and accidents claim more lives. The worst thing about all of this heat is that Soldiers and Marines start to forget their training and that is when the Iraqis that want us to go home can take advantage of our exhaustion and kill our people.

Washington screwed up in the plans for after combat Iraq and I don't see any correction taking place. Our troops need to rotate out of country now. Those in Washington working in air- conditioned offices have no idea of what a day under the Iraqi sun is like.


Two attacks in northern Iraq left one soldier dead and five wounded.

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