Assumption of Command

06 August 2005

Tips for Soldiers Preparing to Deploy

COL (Ret) Austin Bay made a visit to Iraq recently (as a civilian) and was asked by an NCO what kind of stuff to bring.

Advice For A Troop Deploying To Iraq

He has some good advice let's go through them Point by Point and at the end I will add a few things of my own.
(1) Buy a very good pair of tactical gloves– I bought a pair at Bull Tactical Supply in Austin. GT Distributors (which handles police gear) should have some as well.
This is good advice. Gloves are always good to have. But I would wait to buy gloves until after you get the issued set from the Army. If at that point you don't like them, then buy the ones you want. Most of the year it is awful hot for gloves but there are some times and situations where they might be handy (no pun intended)
(2) Have a dust mask for convoys. A scarf helps but a “dickey” type mask is better.
Dust is freaking everywhere here. If you are on a convoy in a guntruck with open windows and hatches, these would be helpful.
(3) Arrive in good shape –make that very good shape.
This is a must. The heat here is ridiculous and it is best to be in good shape for these conditions. you will need all of the energy you can get.
(4) I took doxycycline.
The Army will provide this if you need it don't bother with trying to pay for your own.
You might also take some extra vitamin B (folic acid). Glucosamine sulfate helps some folks with their joints, and wearing kevlar armor takes a toll on “older” joints.
Since my joints don't qualify as “older”, I can't speak on that, but I do take Mega Men's from GNC it has a whole bunch of stuff and I think it works well.
(5) Have a good pair of goggles
As COL Bay notes, the Army will issue a great set of goggles, and if you wear glasses they even have a great on that goes over your glasses from ESS. So again I would wait to see what you get before buying something.
(6) I prefer the UnderArmour t-shirts and shorts. They wick sweat quickly, they can easily washed by hand, and the compression shorts provide support. [ED: Kevlar “over-armor” seems to ride better on UnderArmour-type fabrics. Cotton t-shirts– even when sopping wet with sweat– seem to bunch up. There were a couple of days I wore cotton t-shirts and wished I hadn’t.]
AMEN! UnderArmour is great! I wish I owned stock in those guy. they are making a killing over here. I have both the T-Shirts and the Boxer Briefs (I know TMI) and I very happy I made that investment. By the way they are a few bucks cheaper at the PX.
(7) I was not impressed with the KBR laundry operation– Their operation runs on these principles: “if it can shrink it will, if it can fade it will, if it can fray, it will.” For DCUs and sheets, etc., it’s okay. For UnderArmour garments, it isn’t.
These guys are killing my socks too. They have one heat setting one their dryers: Chernobyl.
(8) Have a camelbak canteen and use it.
Again the Army issued mine to me, but I really don't use it so much. Check and see what you get from the Army first.

Here are a couple of my tips that I would like to add.

1. Bring a Flashlight: It gets Flipping Dark here. I recommend one that can be easily stashed in your pocket at all times. I carry a 2xAAA Mini-Mag that has worked great. But I also have the most D Cell one too. :)

2. Bring a Laptop of a Mini-DVD player: you will need something for entertainment. Nothing says boredom like Hurry-up and Wait! There are DVDs galore around this place.

3. Bring a sense of humor and your patience: it will be a long year and you will need both of these.

I hope this helps.

I know there are some other Deployed/Returned troops that could add to this list. Feel free to send me an E-mail, or leave a comment, blog about it at your site and send me a trackback.

(Via The Mudville Dawn Patrol)

Update1: LT Currie sends this tip via E-Mail:

Other than don't go, I'd have to say this, pick up everything you can get your hands on by T.E. Lawrence and study! Understanding the culture and the history of the region is probably the most important thing for anyone coming here. The thought occurred to me, "We aren't in Kansas anymore." This culture is so opposite of ours. We aren't going to change them, but if we can understand them, then we can work with them, and that is worth its weight in gold here. Understanding.

Well Said! We aren't here to change anyone, we are here to help them get on their feet. The more we understand the better we can do our jobs.

BTW: Visit his site. Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Update2: Dadmanly has some great advice as well

Tips for Deployment to Iraq
Bring a digital camera, one with an automatic lens cover, maglite, and as one of the commenters on COL Bay's blog said, get a couple of carabiners for your IBA to hold helmet or whatever else when your hands are occupied -- our trainers advised putting some 5/50 cord on the bottom of magazines, and as you empty them, you can hook them on the carabiner.

Update3: Pandy has some some good tips for female troops in the comments.

Visit her site as well, What Panda?