Something from Saturday's Times, I haven't spotted it yet on ARRSE but unfortunately it is quite timely given the incidents of the past week. As many of us have said, it was only a matter of time, however it appears to me that very few people back in UK are aware of the current IDF threat. Its a bit long but worth the read if you have no knowledge of the situation: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article2112794.ece Welcome to Basra - get ready to hit the deck ten times a day I was wandering over to the condiment table in the mess hall in search of a sachet of tomato ketchup when the siren sounded: a long, low wail. In a split second my fellow diners camouflaged soldiers and civvy-clad contractors had flung themselves to the floor or crawled under the nearest table, their arms held protectively over their heads. A day earlier I had been talking to two medics as they relaxed under a camouflage net waiting for their next emergency call. As the siren came, they threw themselves on the ground with military precision while I clumsily fell off my chair and on to a pile of cigarette ash. The scenes can appear a little comic. But there is nothing funny about them for the soldiers who live day in, day out with rockets and mortar bombs so-called indirect fire attacks pounding the British airbase in Basra up to ten times a day. The first that anyone on the base usually knows about it is from the siren, by which time the rockets or mortar bombs, mostly leftovers from Saddams looted arsenal, are already well on their way from their launch several miles away. Their target is the air traffic control tower, the only structure tall enough in a sprawling base as big as a small city to be seen from miles away. A sophisticated warning system picks up tremors created by the launch and triggers the alarm a couple of seconds before impact. Sometimes, though, the missile is quicker and you hear its whistle, or the crump of the rocket landing, before the alarm breaks into a wail. The drill is taught to everyone, military or civilian, who comes to the base. Throw yourself to the floor, and if separated from your body armour or helmet, wait three minutes from the last explosion before crawling to them, putting them on and seeking hard cover. Then you must wait it out, in armour, for the siren to sound all-clear. On the base you are never far from your body armour: during my weeks visit I had to take it with me everywhere, even when I was not wearing it. Even on a 30-yard trudge to the lavatory block in the middle of the night. Everything comes to a halt the moment an attack strikes. One day we were aboard a helicopter about to land at the Contingency Operating Base when the airfield came under attack. The pilot was forced to circle until the all-clear siren sounded. Mealtimes and the night are favourite times for attacks just when soldiers are trying to relax. Some sleep in hardcover cabins, most in tents, where each of their beds is protected by a little pen of breeze blocks inside which they live. Some are lucky enough to have the new Baghdad Bed, a bunk bed with a bulletproof top where the upper bunk would be. Others with camp beds simply put their mattress on the floor so that they do not have to roll out of bed every time the alarm goes off. It gets tiring, mentally and physically. But the soldiers tireless discipline is exemplary. While The Times photographer and I sigh and clamber off our chairs, they throw themselves down flat in the blink of an eye, even for the seventh time in a day. Its Pavlovian now, a soldier tells us as we sprawl on the pleasantly carpeted floor of a temporary building. Everyone from general to civilian must follow suit except Tony Blair, who, with foresight, remained upright under mortar attack on a visit to Baghdad for fear that the press would snatch a shot of him sprawled on the ground and under fire in the country that he had helped to liberate. Our driver, Radders, pulls out a notebook and starts scrawling down the date and time, and the number of missiles that have landed. How many have there been? Have a look for yourself, he says, flipping through the densely packed notebook filled with dates and times, appended with little notes on particularly inconvenient moments: In the shower. The military does not release official figures of the number of attacks. In Radderss time here, the highest daily count has been 26 attacks, each comprising an average of three or four missiles. Most say that this month has been quiet but Christy Hooson, a medic, notes how much the attacks have increased since last year. On my last tour I had three rockets and they were always a bit of a joke, she says. Now these arent a joke. It is perhaps miraculous that the missiles do not more often cause the tragedy that they did this week, when three British servicemen were killed. A small crater in the concrete close to the helicopter launch pad, and the holes that shrapnel has dug in the blast walls and nearby corrugated iron roof, demonstrate what they could do to human flesh. The military is highly adept at locating the firing sites. But launchers are often put on timers, so that by the time they fire, the assailants are long gone. And they are often fired from sites at which the attackers know the British will not retaliate, such as a football field where children play. There is little to suggest that these circumstances will improve. Soon British troops will withdraw from Basra Palace, the main city base, and an even greater magnet for indirect fire attacks, to hand it over to Iraqi control. That will leave the Contingency Operating Base as the only target remaining for those who want to drive the British out. This kind of attack, although rarely fatal, is a source of significant stress for troops. The enemy is faceless and distant. They cannot fight back. It is frustrating, one soldier tells me, with a grimace of understatement. For many, the effects of being under constant attack last long after they leave the base. Craftswoman Hoosons tour will end in a month but the effect of the attacks will go on much longer. My birthdays on Bonfire Night and I am absolutely dreading it this year because Ive had about 500 rockets on my tour, and one hit ten metres away, and that really wasnt nice, she says. I hate feeling scared. As I wait in a tent for the Hercules to take me out of Basra to rocket-free Qatar, there is one last attack. Beside me a civilian contractor sighs and climbs slowly down, putting on his helmet before continuing with his crossword on the floor. Ive been here too long, he says.