Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sandstorm blasts UK troops in Kuwait

British troops in Kuwait and Iraq are being blasted by a fierce sandstorm which for the last 48 hours has made their work of bringing UK kit home from Iraq almost impossible.

With winds of over 52mph whipping up the sand in temperatures of 47 degrees, the logistic force, ensuring that six years' worth of combat equipment returns from Iraq in good order, are battling with terrible working conditions, but they are still managing to get some work done.

Private Simon Ameet Limbu says as he takes an hourly atmospheric reading:

"It's like standing in an oven, in a wind tunnel, and on the beach all at the same time."

Private Limbu is a Combat Medical Technician from 4 Medical Regiment based in Aldershot who are manning the medical centre for the Joint Force Logistic Component (JFLogC).

He and others provide the medical care for 500 troops split between Iraq and Kuwait. They are bringing out the remainder of the kit and equipment from Iraq following the end of combat operations in April this year:

"We hear on the news that they are experiencing a heat wave in Britain at 33 degrees. That's nothing! It's hotter than that in the middle of the night here," he added.

"It's tough, but it's not impossible. We get issued top spec goggles that keep the sand out and we're all pretty well acclimatised now. We just work at a pace that suits the heat and take in as much water as possible. The Army have even given me a Camelback drinking system to keep my fluid levels up in the heat of the day."

Captain Ned Brown, a pilot from the Joint Helicopter Force, said it was a tough day to fly in:

"The helicopters are modified to fly in the sand but there comes a point when it just becomes impossible."

He explained that planning ahead can beat the weather:

"We knew it was going to be a tough day weather-wise so we got our business done in a weather window this morning."

Meanwhile troops from the specially deployed Theatre Drawdown Unit continue in their mammoth task of accounting, checking, packing and moving thousands of items of equipment either back to the UK or to Afghanistan. Many of them working in the open.

The storm is forecast to continue for the next few days.

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