I am an active duty officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. All views expressed in this blog are my personal views as an individual and not those of the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What (else) to bring on a deployment to Afghanistan

How do you pack for a year?

Standing in the middle of my apartment with crap strewn on every surface of three rooms, this is the question I found myself asking before my last deployment.  Now that I was really thinking about it, it seemed I knew a lot less about my own daily life than I realized.  How long does a stick of deodorant actually last?  How long before boot socks wear out?  And would someone please just give me a straight answer on what I'll be able to buy in country?

This time around there were still some question marks since I knew I'd be on a non-US base and one with far fewer amenities than Camp Cupcake, but overall packing was much easier.  I did however answer a crudzillion questions from other Marines who had never been, and my list from last time is still the most visited page on my blog according to Google.

So since today is a PT rest day and I've got some time to kill, I thought I'd add some more items to that list, with the benefit of a little more experience and "field testing" of some of this gear.
  • Drop holster.  I know what I said last time about finding a holster you're comfortable with.  But I am so happy with mine that I have to plug it: the Blackhawk Serpa.  Get the combo kit.  I've heard some grumblings about this holster, and I realize I'm not a grunt or MP or what-have-you, but at LNK I drew and holstered the thing a million times a day at the clearing barrel and it worked smoothly, safely and quickly every time.  Isn't that the purpose of a holster?
  • External hard drive.  After several crashes, there is only one brand I will ever trust: Transcend's rugged Storejet M series (you can find them cheaper than that link though).  I own two with a third on order and they have withstood some 14 months of deployment now with no problems.  Accessories: extra USB cable (they seem to go bad all the time) and lots of movies, TV shows and music.
  • Digital camera.  Mentioned this one last time but I had to break two - one in Afg and one in Yuma, AZ, to realize an investment in a rugged camera was worth it.  Got the Panasonic Lumix DMC TS3 - waterproof, dust proof, drop proof, freeze proof, insult proof.  Best specs for the money in the rugged category, at least when I bought it in I think Jan of 2012 or so.  Accessories: large capacity SD card, protective case, extra battery if you can afford one.  Always practice good OpSec.
  • Multi-tool: I like the one we were issued, the Leatherman Wave, because it's versatile, strong and relatively light.
  • Belkin laptop fan - keeps my laptop and my cojones cool and operating at maximum efficiency.
  • Mio water flavor.  This stuff is the best - easy to carry around and sugar free. 
  • Good headphones.  Mine are Klipsch S4i, and while the control buttons quickly stopped working and the ear buds have recently started zapping me with static electricity just a bit too often, the sound quality is excellent and that's all I really care about.  The built in mic is nice for Skyping too.  Pricey at around $100 though, and admittedly I've never tried Bose headphones.  Accessories: this thing.
  • Also good ear pro - I think the wax stuff is by far the most effective.
  • A word about issued gear: don't bring it just because it's on the "required gear" list.  If you brought your e-tool, stop reading right now and go haze yourself for at least 10 minutes.  Use the e-tool.  Some of the more useful gear for POGs like us: the sleeping bag, the drop pouch, the camelbak, the fleece (tan not digi), the poncho and poncho liner.  Some of the less useful gear: the gortex bottoms, the boonie cover, the bivy sack, the goggles, the balaclava (just put on a beanie and stop whining).
  • Other stuff you may not have thought to bring but will make you money out here: extra rank insignia, bungee cords, surge strip, fly strips/fly swatter, pillow (and blanket if you have room), carabiners, cash. 
  • Things from my previous list that are so good I want to plug them again: Timex Ironman Triathlon, USStandardIssue Oakleys, MagPul mags, and yes my favorite toy, the Fenix P3D Flashlight.  For those who have been to Yuma: I lit the desert floor with this thing from the top of OP Feets.  It's awesome. 
Well anywho there are a few more things you might want to bring on deployment or for that matter on any extended trip away from civilization.  Hope it helps and let me know if you have any questions!



Anonymous said...

My favorite part of the entire post was "if you pack your e-tool go haze yourself" hahaha

Alejandro Namocatcat said...
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Josh M said...