This being my second deployment, I am slightly more aware of how to prepare, not that it's really helping me prepare, I'm just aware of the things that I'm putting off. Instead of making sure I was well stocked on all sorts of highspeed military gear, I've focused more on making sure I have plenty of stuff to keep me entertained (which in my case is lots of books) and things to help record the experience. During the last deployment, I didn't take the time I should have to get as many pictures as possible, and for many reasons I regret not having the memories to refer back to.
I've been attempting to get as much information I can about what the conditions are like in Iraq (you know the important things like what the chows is like, how fast the internet is, and do they have a Post Exchange on base). Last deployment I spent a bulk of my time on a small base in Afghanistan and this time I am headed to Iraq and expect to be at a larger (and hopefully more built-up base).
Just in case it's interesting my current packing list includes (it's not all-inclusive yet):
- Flip HD Ultra Video Camera
- CDs and Flash Drives
- Digital Camera
- Military ID Card Reader (we use them to digitally sign documents)
- IKEA Pillows and Sheets (nothing exciting but I know they're clean)
- Books (list books)
- Uniforms (2 regular, one PT)
- Knives (2x pocket, 1 K-Bar)
- Drop-Leg Magazine Holster
- Rack-Type Magazine Holster and Pouches
- About 3 full 3 ring binders with records
In case you think the list looks slim, believe me it is (we are expecting to be away from home over a year). At this point we are only allowed to carry two duffle bags and one large backpack on the plane ride overseas with us (we are also allowed to carry a personal item such as a laptop and a carry on). Last time I went, I remember how difficult it was to fit just the Army issue items into the little packing space we had (we finally got all my stuff crammed into my bags by having one soldier hold the bag while I jumped up and down into it until things were compressed enough). Currently, I have a full duffle bag full of cold weather gear waiting for me in Wisconsin and am expecting to get at least another bag worth of stuff issued before we head over.