Having just received a letter from a good friend -- a military physician who has been stationed in Saudi Arabia for several weeks -- I read with interest Emerson Brown's letter {"Soldiers' Life in the Desert," Sept. 22} recounting his 14 months in the Arabian desert over 40 years ago. The contrast between my friend's and Mr. Brown's experiences is quite pronounced -- unfortunately, it would appear, for our troops serving in that region today.

While Mr. Brown found the British-made facilities of 1947 well-suited to the climate -- indeed, even "comfortable" -- here are some of my friend's observations:

"The hospital consists of multiple inflatable units connected together. They are colored dark green, made of rubber and really soak up the sun. They are kept inflated and air-conditioned by large power plants, also colored dark green and sharing a tendency to fail in the heat and dust. When they do fail, the interiors of each hospital unit quickly become extremely hot and essentially non-functional. I'm afraid I know what's going to happen when and if we get large numbers of casualties. The potential for a disaster is great though the upper-level military people seem unconcerned with our reports of possible hospital shut-down."

I think it's time all of us -- particularly the media -- quit fretting about a general's verbal gaffes or whether Saddam Hussein is properly compared to Adolf Hitler and make sure the people who willingly go in harm's way for our country are at least provided for as well as the British apparently managed to do four decades ago.

GENE WORLEY Arlington