So you just got your movement orders for an operational deployment. You’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed at all the stuff you need to do. Vaccination dates need to be checked, refresher and pre-deployment training arranged, you’ll need to make sure your family is squared away and of course, squeezing in some time off before you go would be nice. There’s one more thing you should consider though, and that’s making the deployment itself as comfortable as possible. Your options could be pretty limited here depending on where you’re actually deploying to, but there are usually a few luxuries you can pack that will make life a bit better for you while you’re away.
Operations can run at a frantic pace for days at a time, but there can also be long periods with not much to do. Reading is a great way to pass the time but books are heavy – there’s a limit to how many you can take with you. On the other hand, eBooks let you carry a huge library in a small space. It’s best to get yourself a dedicated eBook device, like a Kindle or Sony Reader. However, security measures can mean an embargo on cell phones and tablets, so if that’s your reading device, you can find yourself suddenly deprived of your library. Load the memory with as many books as you can get your hands on before you deploy, but try to fit half a dozen real paper books into your gear as well. No matter how austere things get, a traditional book will keep working, and once you’ve read them you can trade them for fresh ones.
Tip: A reader with an e-ink screen will also give you much better battery life, which can be a major advantage in remote locations.
Take a decent laptop with you – something that’s powerful enough for watching video and maybe playing some games. Don’t buy the best on the market though, because there’s a good chance it’s going to finish the tour infested with dust and sand. A big hard drive you can preload with songs and movies is an advantage; an external drive can be even better.
If you’re going to be away through special occasions or holidays, it’s a good idea to pack a few little treats for yourself – it doesn’t take a lot to add some festive color to your life on tour, for example by hanging a few small Christmas decorations around your office or bunk space. Edible treats are great too, but they often don’t survive very well. Take a chocolate Santa to the heat of Kandahar in June and he’ll be looking pretty sad by December.
Simple things can make a huge difference on tour. If you’re deploying to a hot climate, get a decent pair of sandals before you leave. They’ll be far more comfortable off duty or around the FOB than a pair of cheap thongs from the PX.
If your tour is spent on a large base, there’s a good chance you’ll end up buying a lot of stuff while you’re out there – bedding is a popular purchase. Most of the junk people buy is aimed at making life a touch more pleasant for the duration, but a lot of it is over-priced and the selection can be very limited. You can save a lot of money, and get better results, by packing a few carefully chosen items before you even get on the plane – and it’s definitely worth the effort. After all, a year is a long time, and it’ll seem even longer if you’re more uncomfortable than you need to be.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.