Published: October 4, 2013
The key to Kuwait for soldiers in Fort Carson's 1st Brigade Combat Team is getting used to the nightlife.
With daytime temperatures topping 120 degrees, soldiers from the brigade have been forced to work and train on the night shift, especially the most physically demanding work, said Lt. Col. Geoff Norman, who command's the brigade's 7th Squadron of the 10th Cavalry Regiment.
Kuwait, where the Persian Gulf meets baby powder sand of the Arabian Desert, is one of the hottest places on earth. The high temperatures make some jobs impossible in the daytime.
"You can physically get burned by touching metal objects in heat of the day," Norman said.
Soldiers with 1st Brigade began working in Kuwait in February as part of a Defense Department plan to stage Army units in the region on a rotational basis. Fort Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat Team is due to deploy to Kuwait this winter, replacing 1st Brigade.
Kuwait is a peaceful place, but the brigade, which deployed in stages, has faced the threat of war for much of the deployment.
Norman said his soldiers arrived in July as America shuttered embassies through the region due to terrorist threats.
In recent weeks, soldiers in the brigade have stayed ready for combat as tensions rose with Syria.
The brigade's primary mission has been training.
"We're also sent over here to maintain readiness and to respond to any contingency the national command authority may call upon us for," Norman said.
Soldiers have warily watched conditions in the Middle East while keeping an eye on disasters in Colorado.
Norman said as many as 15 families from the brigade were forced to evacuate by the Black Forest fire and recent record flooding in Colorado drove worry for deployed troops, too.
"I grew up my whole life in Boulder," Norman said. "It was difficult for me to watch areas of my hometown get washed away."
Troops have stayed in touch with family in Colorado Springs through Internet and phones provided at their camp. Norman said most soldiers use the Internet applications Facetime and Skype to keep family close.
Norman's soldiers have stayed busy, guarding Camp Buehring and other American installations.
Cavalry troops are accustomed to lightning-fast movement on the battlefield, but are no strangers to standing guard, Norman said.
"In some ways this goes back to an old cavalry tradition of protecting things on the frontier," Norman said. "Its not the reconnaissance side of our mission but is absolutely the security side of our mission."
The brigade is due home in about three months, and commanders are watching for signs of complacency as their time in Kuwait gets shorter.
The fear is that soldiers who are focused on going home are less likely to focus on staying safe on their jobs in Kuwait. "Our guys have had their heads on a swivel, making sure they are doing the right thing," Norman said.