Kuwait and the Build-Up to War

Sgt Adam Topol

Having arrived in Kuwait from the UK in the dead of night on 3 March 2003, courtesy of the RAF, the squadron was moved from the airport to the divisional transit centre out in the featureless Kuwaiti desert and from there to the JNBCR at Camtelia Lines the next morning.

During the first few days Y Sqn tasted the hostility of the desert. Strong desert winds ripped tent canvas, so goggles or some form of eye protection needed to be worn constantly. One of the worst storms (straight out of the film The Mummy) blew up the day we started working on our newly-arrived vehicles. Sand was blown into everything and we had to work with limited visibility. This was a hard way to get used to the environment and acclimatise.

After receiving its vehicles and operational equipment, Y Sqn had to ready both equipment and personnel in preparation for likely military action in Iraq. We got down to some serious work on fully preparing our vehicles, radios, operational equipment and ourselves in the little time that we suspected we had from arrival in theatre before going to war operations.

A training programme was established and Y Sqn started to exercise at all levels. In very little time we had to learn to work as a team (regardless of whether a soldier originally came from A, W or the RLC) and this soon started to bear fruit especially at section and troop level. Training included operation of equipment, movement and leaguer drills, operational and thorough decon drills, local defence and battlefield discipline. Possibly one of the hardest factors to get used to was working in full IPE and respirators, as even in March the temperatures were as high as 32 degrees in the daytime. Although difficult this did not prove insurmountable.

During this period, RHQ JNBCR and Y Sqn disseminated the general outline on how the invasion of Iraq would proceed, likely battle plans and the phases of this war operation.

On 12 March 2003, with short notice and in the middle of the night, some sections were issued orders to detach from Y Sqn to reinforce a number of JNBCR units with the fighting brigades spread throughout the divisional order of battle. Due to the late notification of detachment, only our Troop Leader Lt Phillips had the opportunity to wish us well as we departed into the unknown, and so on a clear desert night we dispersed to new locations, units and taskings with war looking ever more imminent.

Decon practice in front of leftovers from the previous war