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It is very hot in Afghanistan

Heroes Remember

It is very hot in Afghanistan

Every reserve regiment has a regular force representatives that come and help aid the regiment in its’ training and in its’ organization and its’ day to day business. And you usually have a sergeant and a warrant officer or a master warrant officer come out and help along with the captain, to help guide the reserves along the way because we are not full time soldiers, we don’t do it every day. So one of our regular support staff, sergeants from the Strathcona Regiment, Lord Strathcona’s Horse, had come back from Afghanistan and, of course, we were getting ready to go so we all wanted to know what it was like and, you know, Bruce, you barely got a word out of him but it was like, “Hot, it was like Afghan hot, you can’t understand hot until you have been there!” And, you know, I’m thinking to myself, we made a joke out of it, every time someone said anything to me it was like, “Well was it Afghan hot?” And Bruce would laugh, he was like, “Laugh it up, laugh it up, you’ll see what I am talking about!” And we did. I was trained as an armoured guy. I was in AVGP Cougars throughout my training in the militia in the reserves and I was a crew commander, I was a troop warrant looking after a group of soldiers in the tank troops. When I went to Bosnia I went as an infantry section commander. That was a very different environment. I had to learn everything new and deploy there. Then when Afghanistan came up there is only so many positions that were available. While I was deployed in Bosnia I took a course called, “Introduction to PSYOPS” and it sounded fancy, it sounded really neat. I was interested in what it meant and we learned that PSYOPS is basically psychological operations which is a fancy term for propaganda. When I try to explain it to my friends they would say, “Oh you’re five o’clock Charlie from M.A.S.H.!” A plane used to fly over and drop the leaflet bombs so basically that’s what we did. But I had an interest in it and there was positions available so I put my name in. Afghanistan started a lot of training, a lot of shooting, a lot of drills, a lot of getting all the skills up to where they, levels they needed to be and learning your team. I took a number of courses including the PSYOPS course out of Montreal; really important new role, very new to the Canadian Forces, it had been around for hundreds of years but not really understood or known. Getting into the training with the battle group, we deployed with 1st Battalion PPCLI and we were the first time they had ever worked with psychological operations. And so, there was some confusion, there was some lack of understanding of what our role and what our team could bring to the table. So that took a bit of workup training to get that information in and get that information understood with all the players that we were dealing with but still it was difficult getting there. You get off the plane and they lower the ramp on the Hercules because we fly to a third location, we would do a set up there and get on the Herc and then we would fly into Afghanistan. And the Hercules would come in and you’d land and the ramp would drop and it was like someone punched you in the gut with the heat. It was just this completely solid mass of heat that would hit you. It was 8:30 in the morning I think when I landed and I was overwhelmed by the heat and this was January and I’m thinking of dear God, this is going to be crazy! By August, you know the thermometer stopped at 9 o’clock in the morning and it was at 60 degrees Celsius and, you know, that was ten o’clock in the morning, or nine o’clock in the morning, you know by two o’clock in the afternoon you’re hitting peak season, I mean what is the temperature? Anyone’s guess is as good as mine but with all your body armour on and everything else. Most soldiers lost about 20 pounds of weight in water alone; everybody, just in water because of the heat over there. You’re wearing a ballistic vest with ceramic plates in it so you’re carrying an additional fifty pounds of protective equipment plus your helmet. You’ve then got your ammunition vest on with all of your ammo and grenades and all your water bottles and all your equipment. You know by the time you are done, ballistic goggles on and you wore gloves because you didn’t want to touch bare metal with your hands because it was so hot you’d burn your hands on your own weapon or the vehicle. The place is like the surface of the moon. You expect that there’s no life in the place and then you would turn a corner and there would be a tortoise walking around the desert and you’re shocked there’s a desert turtle. Here it is and it’s a big-sized turtle and I’m thinking things can live here and then you would see birds. You would see little field mice, you would see scorpions and spiders and snakes and all the other fun animals that no one liked. When their own environment is trying to attack you, it’s a pretty nasty place.

Mr. McCue shares his experiences and examples of how the extremely hot temperatures affect daily routine.

Robert McCue

Mr. Robert McCue was born August 22, 1972 in the city of Edmonton, Alberta. During his youth, he joined the air cadets and contributes this as a turning point towards a military career. Joining the Reserves, Mr. McCue became a part of the South Alberta Lighthorse Unit formerly known as the South Alberta Regiment. He accepted a deployment to Bosnia in 2003 as an infantry section commander, holding rank of sergeant. Later, he accepted a position with a newly developed unit, PSYOPS and deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. During this time Mr. McCue worked for Canada Post. Having a strong interest in military history and respecting the contributions made by his grandfather during WWI, Mr. McCue had the opportunity to travel as part of the delegation to Vimy in celebration of the 100th anniversary, an honour he will cherish for a lifetime. Mr. McCue presently resides in Edmonton, Alberta with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
April 3, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Robert McCue
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

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