Sand In the Gears:

Vehicle maintainers at Balad AB, Iraq, will tell you that the extreme conditions in Balad—sand and heat—cause vehicles to need frequent repair. The 23 mechanics of the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, maintain more than 450 vehicles—from fire trucks to cranes to pickups and Humvees. They repair up to 100 vehicles per week, mostly performing routine work, like clearing clogged air filters and replacing batteries and tires, but that type of routine care now takes place at least three times a year instead of once every six to 12 months. At Balad alone, say officials, the Air Force spends $200,000 a month in parts to keep the vehicles operating.