Life further improved when they told me I was off for a 6 weeks exercise to Washington estate, where I had an amazing week living in a hostel in Seattle with my down time. Then when I got back I was posted to live in Cyrpus for two years. Amazing! They were going to pay me even more money to live abroad on a holiday island. While there I went off to Jordan on exercise and I got to visit the Dead Sea, ride a camel, visit the real desert and go and see the wonderful stone city in Petra. Things were going great.
After Cyprus, I ended up in Preston, and being really dumb married a woman there within 3 months of meeting her. Not long after I was promoted and had to move again and ended up in Bordon. It turned out my new bride was not impressed with a job that offered so much freedom to move around.
Within a week of arriving at Bordon I was sent off to Maidstone on a detachment with the Ghurkha Engineers Squadron there. This was during the build-up to the Second Gulf war, and we were the lucky contenders who were going to get to go and find the secret stash of WMD in Iraq.
The evidence was pretty compelling. We knew they had such devices owing to two facts as were presented to us. Firstly, it had been international news a couple of years before that the Kurdish people of the northern town of Halabja in 1988 had been gassed by Saddam Hussein - certainly enough proof such weapons existed there for a rational person. Combine this with the knowledge that during the Iran-Iraq war both the UK and US supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons, and it seemed reasonable to make the assumption that they were still there.
An intense week and a half of training saw us ready and equipped as best they could for dessert warfare. In reality, this meant we were wearing our forest patterned camouflage uniform from home ready to go to the desert, with a few extra bits of hot weather clothing.
Waiting to go was painful you'd say goodbye to your wife, drive to Maidstone to meet up with the Ghurkhas, then wait there for your flight that week, by Friday you'd be told 'not this week' and sent home to say goodbye again and return to do it again the next week. We actually repeated this week after week and didn't fly out four weeks after first arriving in Maidstone.