Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. (October 3, 2022): A haboob, derived from the Arabic “Hab” or “to blow", is a powerful wind that flows through the Sahara Desert creating a gigantic sandstorm that moves as a wall of dust reaching as high as 3,000 feet. These monsters appear suddenly, darkening the desert sky with their ominous reddish-brown clouds while producing thunderstorms and crackling lightning.
Soldiers in Operation Desert Storm reported haboob events that arrived in the middle of the night and lasted up to 3 hours. These ferocious winds collapsed tents and hurled anything not tied down out into the desert. Sand from these storms was ultra-fine, like talcum powder, and filled your nostrils, clogged your eyes, and seeped into everything from clothing to weapons.
The Haboob is a phenomenon that is typical of life in the desert. Daily temperatures reach above 130 degrees, yet desert nights are inexplicably cold, a radical range in temperatures that can be quite jarring for newly deployed troops. Desert war fighting requires maintaining soldiers, weapons, and equipment under some of the harshest conditions on earth. Of major concern during Desert Storm was how well our troops and equipment, in particular combat aircraft, would perform in the Saudi desert. Sudden storms, like the Haboob, only complicate an already difficult maintenance environment.
Sometimes, however, they come in handy.
In March 2003, five days into the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a Haboob came to the aid of coalition forces, much to the dismay of the enemy.
A low-pressure system had been predicted for the area, but no one could have imagined the size of the Haboob that descended on the 170,00 American forces engaged in combat operations. Visibility dropped to ten feet and the rain turned dust into mud.
American forces continued to attack during breaks in the storm, identifying Iraqi armor and troop concentrations using GPS and then relaying the coordinates to friendly aircraft. The storm had blinded the enemy who was frozen in place for hours waiting for the storm to subside. What they did not know was American planes had the ability to fly over the sandstorm to deliver precision-guided weapons on target in zero-visibility.
This time, the weather helped shield coalition forces from view while allowing superior air power to destroy the enemy.
Today’s desert fighters undergo three-weeks of intensive training at the Army’s Desert Warrior Course at Fort Bliss, Texas. The school imparts the hard-earned lessons of the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan Wars on surviving the blistering hot days and frigid nights living in the desert. The course focusses on small unit tactics performed under realistic combat conditions and is taught by instructors who are handpicked experts on desert training, each having multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers learn essential survival skills such as building shelters, starting fires, finding water, and operating without the use of GPS.
American servicemembers are deployed in harsh desert conditions, right now, and need our support. Please consider contributing funds to Support Our Troops’ Patriot Brigade® where you will join thousands of Americans who make monthly donations to pay for comfort items and recreational programs for our military deployed overseas. Please go to our secure website https://supportourtroops.org/donate to contribute to America’s finest today!