General Question

arches140's avatar

How do American soldiers stationed in the middle east keep cool when they're wearing so much clothing and gear?

Asked by arches140 (72points) July 31st, 2011

From what I know, the temperatures in some parts of the Middle East during the summer are higher than most of Americans have seen, for example, on Monday, Baghdad is supposed to have a high of 122 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m curious to know how our troops keep from having heat stroke or any other related problems due to the heat while they’re working during the summer months?

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19 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I’m sure they’ve been trained to keep properly hydrated. They might take salt pills. But I don’t know what else they can do.

snowberry's avatar

Every one carries water on them, and is required to be hydrated before they start to drink. Most of the work is done during the coolest parts of the day, from say an hour before daylight to maybe 9 or 10 AM. I’m not sure what the humidity is there, but the less the humidity, the easier it is to work. Edit: Likewise the higher the humidity, the hotter it seems.

arches140's avatar

@wundayatta what are salt pills?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Most medical people do not recommend salt pills now. They were common during Vietnam, but can cause lasting problems. Most people consume more than enough salt via diet.

They are nothing much more than salt in tablet form.

snowberry's avatar

@arches140 When you sweat, salt comes out of your pores. Salt tablets are intended to minimize fatigue and muscle cramps. If someone is on a low salt diet, they must do so under the supervision of a doctor.

These people say that if you’re sweating while exercising (like a soldier might be doing), you need to replace electrolytes as well as sodium.

incendiary_dan's avatar

My trick is usually to wet a bandana and wrap it on my head. If it’s particularly hot, another one is wet and put on my neck. Of course, I don’t dress up as heavily and carry as much gear as a soldier, but pretty close sometimes.

snowberry's avatar

Oh, and if you’re moving around, the hotter it is, the more rest stops (preferably in shade) you need. You’ll drink more water if it’s not icy.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’m also willing to bet that a lot of them are issued moisture wicking garments to help them sweat more effectively. I just got a short sleeved wicking shirt, and it’s helped me plenty.

Kayak8's avatar

I know the dogs are given cooling vests, footgear, and eye protection.

flutherother's avatar

American soldiers live in air conditioned tents which, it has been reported, cost $20 Billion a year to run.

Nullo's avatar

In the field? Nothing, beyond what the body already does.


In some parts of Asia, where temperatures average above 100 F. every day, people drench their hair and their entire clothes with water, wear light, thin cotton fabrics, and take a long break during the early part of the afternoon when it’s hottest, usually to nap instead of working. An East Indian friend of mine once told me that people in India soak their clothes with cool water when they’re working outdoors. I don’t know if soldiers do that too, but they probably hydrate themselves as much as possible and “water” themselves occasionally also.

flutherother's avatar

Some soldiers don’t survive the heat

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if they use cool suits at all, like my husband does when he races? American reporter David Bloom died while covering the middle east and travelling with soldiers. He was not hydrated enough for long periods, and sitting in the same position too long. Blood clot. Soldiers tend to be young, so they have more stamina against the heat, and as people said above they probably do maneuvers during the cooler part of the day.

Kayak8's avatar

Um, apparently they have cooling vests for people too—here

KatawaGrey's avatar

I will ask my cousin. He did two tours of duty in the Middle East, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. I’ll let you know what he says.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kayak8 I just looked over that link, so those vests are wet? The wet is against their skin? I’m just trying to figure out exactly how the military cooling vests work. In racing the cool shirts have ice water running through tubes, but you have to be plugged into the car so to speak.

mattbrowne's avatar

Sweating. Plus the intake to replace the sweat.

KatawaGrey's avatar

From my cousin: “You don’t. You just get used to it and drink shit tons of water. If you’re lucky, there is somewhere with a working a/c you can enjoy every once in a while.”

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