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U.S. troops from Chaos Company, 1-75 Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Southern Afghanistan. As temperatures begin to drop, building fires have become a necessary part of the routine. (Photo by Ben Gilbert for GlobalPost)

It’s getting cold in southern Afghanistan.

Troops in the field on missions have little more than their clothes and sleeping bags to keep them warm on evenings when the temperature is dipping into the low 40s and high 30s.

It may not sound that cold. But without a heater, it's cold. The mornings are especially challenging.

Because the life of an infantryman very much revolves around the sun being up, troops often bed down by 9pm.

But at first light, about 5 a.m. here these days, the air is dry and frigid. Dragging one's dirty self out of a warm sleeping bag and into the seemingly freezing air is a transition one does not look forward
to.

A couple platoons I was with this week found an old answer to the problem: build a fire.

The troops of Apache Troop, 1st of the 75th Cavalry Squadron, had a fire going the night we arrived by helicopter to their small compound. They slept on the dirt floor, under the stars, with no shelter.

So, to dry their boots and keep warm in the frigid air, they built a fire.

A few days later, we were with the 1-75’s Chaos Company. These guys had dug a pit in a compound they were occupying. By day, they fed it with plenty of fuel: wood from ammo and demolition containers. Cardboard from water and food containers.

In the morning, they lit a raging campfire, around which everyone would gather to warm themselves, eat breakfast, and talk.

The troops are hoping to get tents with heaters before the real cold air sets in this winter, when temperatures drop below freezing.

U.S. troops from Chaos Company, 1-75 Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Southern Afghanistan. As temperatures begin to drop, building fires have become a necessary part of the routine. (Photo by Ben Gilbert for GlobalPost)

 

U.S. troops from Chaos Company, 1-75 Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Southern Afghanistan. As temperatures begin to drop, building fires have become a necessary part of the routine. (Photo by Ben Gilbert for GlobalPost)
U.S. troops from Apache Company, 1-75 Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Southern Afghanistan. (Photo by Ben Gilbert for GlobalPost)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/afghanistan/its-getting-cold-southern-afghanistan