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Fort Bragg Soldiers Don't Stop for Heat

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FORT BRAGG — If you think the heat is bad these days, try marching in the boots of a Fort Bragg soldier for a while. Dressed in heavy fatigues they continue their hard work even during the hottest part of the day.

But, while training doesn't stop at Fort Bragg even when the mercury soars, soldiers do get the occasional break. Under Army policy, frequent water and shade breaks are mandatory every hour to prevent heat exhaustion or even worse, heat stroke.

Sergeant John Maxwell was taking part in master gunner training Wednesday. He spent more than eight hours on a sweltering field. It was hot, but Maxwell said the heat was bearable, compared to one of his missions in a Saudi Arabian desert.

"Here, it's in the 90's, a wet heat," said Maxwell. "In Saudi, it's kind of dry."

Because soldiers are deployed in very hot and very cold parts of the world, officials say its important for the military to train in those conditions.

"We cannot stop training because it gets hot because that means we would stop going to combat if it got hot," said Major Gary Keck of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Soldiers say the last couple of days have been so hot, they must concentrate even harder than usual.

"It makes things tough, we are climbing, conducting checks remembering things, it makes things real tough , double jeopardy I guess," said Sgt. Joseph Dugan.

Soldiers try to stay focused and prevent heat injury by modifying their uniforms, applying sunscreen and taking breaks when possible. Just how many rest cycles they take is determined by an army formula on heat condition. The higher the heat category, the more shade and water breaks they take every hour.

"You're just ready to almost pass out," said Spc. Michael Halter. "You are sweating like crazy. It is great to take a break."

Commanders and squad leaders do have the option of scheduling exercises earlier in the day. They can try to get their training completed before the afternoon temperatures hit their highest marks.

Leaders also have the freedom to suspend physical training, but they say that rarely happens.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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