What to Take When Deploying To the Middle East

November 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Trail Boss Articles

We received an email requesting that this article be re-posted. It is dated because it was written back in 2002. It was widely used by SF,  special operations personnel and contractors at that time, things have changed, improvements made etc. A good deal of the information is still valid.  So here it is again.  

What to Take When Deploying To the Middle East

Doran 2002

I have received so many emails in regard to what equipment to take to the Middle East I cannot keep up with the replies. So I decided to  put together an article designed to help anyone deploying, living or traveling  through desert environments to have the right gear.

For a guy who complains about hating the desert so much, I  have spent more than my fair share of time living and working in aired lands.  Even now, my home is in the desert.

As I have probably stated in all of my articles in the past ‘Survival is a state of mind. If you give up, you will die or become seriously injured. A positive attitude that you will make it back no matter what is going to be the key to your survival. I do not mean just giving lip service to the prospect. You have to engrain it in your brain and really believe it. I  have known a lot of men who talked a big line about how tough, rough and ready  they were to handle any and every situation. Then, when called into action turned out to be the biggest whiners on the planet.

I have had the pleasure of serving with some of the best. I have also had the displeasure of serving with some of the worst. Why do I bring this up? Because I do not want anyone to discourage you in your personal training or influence your decision to fight and survive, one bad apple can spoil a mission and put a team or individual in jeopardy.

So what if they call you names and tell you you are wating your time training or, carrying to much weight topping off your canteens. When they are laid in under heavy fire dying of thirst you will continue to fight.

I had probably one of the smartest Gunnery Sergeants on the planet. I remember when we would train he would always pay close attention  to everyone. We had guys who could run like rabbits and climb like monkeys and others who were slower and everything in-between.  It used to amaze me how most of the guys in the best shape were never selected to command or to become team leaders.   I asked the Gunny why he never selected them to lead or participate in certain missions?

His response was simple. I want a guy who never gives up no matter what the odds, some guys have a harder time than others but they never quit.  Nothing comes easy to them, they have to practice on their own time to pass the test, they may crawl across the finish line but they cross it. There are other guys who seem to be the best but they loose a point on the PT test or something does not go as they think it it should and they fall  apart. I want the guy who is going to accomplish his mission, or die trying. One who has a “never say die” attitude and is willing to work on his own time to hone his skills.

I never forgot what the Gunny said and made my choices accordingly when selecting personnel. Since that day I train hard and buy my own equipment out of pocket if I am not supplied with it. In fact I usually prefer  buying my own critical equipment.

Why is buying your own critical gear better? Because if you buy your own gear you can assure a proper fit and type, with undergarments, gloves, socks etc, and have an opportunity to test and re-test your field gear  before betting your life on it.   In my opinion this is much better then using  some untested piece of gear I have never even seen before let alone used. I need to make sure it will hold up or do what I need it to do.

I understand some situations require you wear a uniform and use issue gear.  I have put together a list of items that you can take with you regardless of your position, military or civilian.

Although you are a member of a team, it is your responsibility to make sure you come back alive and well.  When it hits the fan, your skills and training will play a large part in who lives, who dies and who is taken out on a stretcher.  I personally do not want to leave this world without giving it my best. And I always want the edge no matter what the situation.

Even though the list may seem extensive, all of these items are small, compact, weigh practically nothing and can be packed in a small space. Since some of the items are consumable they will be gone before you get back.

I like to vacuum pack most of the items I take, even clothing, so it takes up even less space.   I vacuum pack summer and winter  clothing separately.  This allows me to leave the off season sealed until I need it, clean and ready to go.

If space is a problem the solution is simple.  I have never been anywhere in the world that I could not get my hands on a vacuum cleaner.  Part of your basic kit should always include trash bags;  just take along a few heavy duty construction-type trash bags. Fold your items  and place several in each bag, suck the air out with the vacuum, twist up the bag, and secure it with 100 mile and hour tape, place in your sea bag or back pack and go. (This will work on clothing; poncho liners and other bulky fabric items. And you can use the same process if you do not have access to a commercial vacuum sealer or bag before you leave)

Let’s start with the basics, clothing. If you are in the military BDU’s are about the best you are going to get. The fabric blends will assist your body in copping with the heat, cold and the UV rays of the sun. Whatever you do, stay away from 100 % cotton, do not even weigh down your pack with the stuff.  Remember, cotton kills; when it gets cold  it stays cold. And yes, it gets very cold in the desert. Some will argue in the summer months it is okay for day time use, when worn baggy to allow the body to naturally cool. They are right; however; why bring something you can only use part of the time, when you can use BDU’s and the other materials year round.

Make sure your socks are a thick wool hiking type or one of the new cool max synthetics designed for long days on your feet.  I do not feel that the military issue type provide enough padding. I do take along a few pairs to wear while I am sleeping.  However, if the military type is all you have they are much better than cotton. A lot of the contractor issue plain old cheep white cotton socks, toss them or tell them you have your own and do not care to have them issued.

If you are going to be on the move or on your feet for long periods have your mother or girlfriend buy you several pairs of knee high panty hose to wear under your socks, unless you are man enough to do it yourself. Your feet will thank you at the end of the day.

If you are a civilian, purchase tan or green BDU trousers and the civilian tuck able BDU shirt or the brands of clothing made out of the lightweight breathable nylon. DO NOT buy the trousers with zip off legs unless you are just using them for Pajamas, especially if you are walking or could be forced to walk long distances. Unless of course you like having your legs rubbed raw. A lot of contractors require that you wear the 511 brand and issue it. So you need something to go underneath.

Even in uniform I like to take a pair of light weight EX  OFFICIO nylon trousers. They are comfortable enough to sleep in, have standard  belt loops and several zippered pockets. They only weigh a few ounces, take up little or no room in your pack and you can wear them as trousers any time you need to.  I wear them to bed, in an emergency I can jump up slide my feet into a pair of desert Moc’s, throw on my shirt, vest, grab my weapon and I am out the door before my partner has even found his shoes.  If under attack I do not have to stand around holding my slinky, instead of engaging the enemy.

Along with my lightweight desert boots, (Leave the heavy hiking boots behind unless you are assigned to a mountainous area or could be) I like to bring a pair of low quarter lightweight suede slip-on desert Moc’s, with good rubber soles, or heavy duty sandals that can be secured to the feet or good slip-on water shoes (leave the cheep shower shoes at home) or a pair of ankle high Indian style moccasins with no sole.  These can actually be rolled up and stuck in a pocket; you could even make your own if you were handy with a needle.  Remember to replace your boot strings with Para-cord so you have ample cordage available when you need it. The inside of the Para-cord can be removed and used; the outside can remain in your boots keeping them secure.

I want whatever I put on my feet to be serviceable and have the ability to use the footwear to walk, run or do whatever needs to be done at any given time. Mr. Murphy is always watching, and in my case rears his ugly head just when it is my turn to take a shower or take my boots off my feet.

The Indian style moccasins with no sole are great they  give your feet a break from the hard soles of your boots and provided enough  protection to do whatever needs to be done. Oh, and by the way; absolutely no steel toed shoes at all, unless you like your feet medium rare to well done and never wish to use them again.

I like the cool max type undergarments, the loose under armor heat gear for summer and the light weigh 5.5 oz long johns for winter. I take several of each. The silk long johns are great for times in-between the seasons. I do not like bulk, I like to move when I need to and I carry enough gear I do not like being weighted down with heavy clothing.

I am fond of the reversible fleece jackets and vests as outerwear, they are light weight, and can be turned inside out if it rains or snows to keep them from soaking up moisture. I can layer this way and I do not have to take a lot of extra stuff with me.

I take a few pairs of gloves. Protecting your hands in the desert is as important as putting your boots on in the morning.  You always need to remember to shake your boots out.I like the fingerless mittens; I usually wear a lightweight pair of neoprene search gloves underneath so I can keep my trigger and grip fingers out while on duty or moving through hostile territory.

In the summer I wear thin leather fingerless gloves to protect the back of my hands and palms from the sun, brush, pickers and anything else that could cause an abrasion.  Unless I am searching a person; at which time I switch to an all leather thin Kevlar lined glove, which allows me to not touch the subject yet, withdraw and use my sidearm or rifle without hesitation.

Latex gloves do not do it for me; they only provide bodily fluid protection and practically melt on your hands in the heat of the desert.  You can wash your leather gloves just like your hands if you need to. Just allow them to dry out of direct sunlight.

I never go anywhere without a wool watch cap, summer or winter; you never know when the weather could change. Keeping your knob warm is key to staying alive. Nothing does it better than a wool watch cap, they stay  warm when wet and do not burn, so you do not have to worry about your head  catching fire and have your buddies tease you mercilessly for the rest of your  life.

I have become partial to the wool felt cowboy type hat manufactured by the Outback Trading Company. These hats have a wire that runs around the brim so it does not fall in your face in the rain, it can be flipped up at night to give you better vision. In the summer, it holds on to your sweat longer providing an excellent cooling effect. It has a leather thong to hold it on to your skull in windy conditions and comes in earth tones. Best of all you can hardly wear them out and also make a great water bucket in a pinch.

I like the fleece type Baklava in extreme cold and the Arabian Shorh or Smagh, for summer, if you can not find one, they can be made out of the piece of lightweight cloth of your choice, and some type of head band to hold it in place.  You can always use it when you get home and play Lawrence of Arabia with your significant other. NO PRISONERS!!!! Several large bandanas should be taken for head, face and neck protection, wiping off gear and for use as an ass rag if no TP is available. Just do not forget which is which.

Eye Protection is a must, your eyes can be damaged for years if not permanently by the sun.  A few pairs of good UV protective sunglasses are a must along with cords designed to allow the glasses to hang around your neck when not in use, and goggles for sand storms.

There are several personal items you do not want to be without. The first being a great pair of tweezers; not okay, not good, but great. Spare no expense on getting tweezers that will allow you to pull out any small slivers that get in the skin. A good pair of small scissors, high quality fingernail, and toenail clippers. An exfoliation cloth; this cloth can be purchased in oriental markets and stores like Bed Bath and beyond. It removes dead skin from your body and encourages your body to manufacture new skin cells.  (Nothing is proven in this area, but I believe that using these cloths may help reduce your chances of getting skin cancer because it gets your cells used to replacing bad ones with good ones.

A small container of Cetaphil moisturizing cream, this stuff goes a long way, a small container will last a year.  Cetaphil is scent  free allergy free and will keep you from getting cracked lips and skin.

Dr. Bronners Hemp-Peppermint soap, you can use this stuff to shave, brush your teeth, bath, and shampoo. It does it all so no need to pack a ton of other items, Dr. Bronners soap can be purchased in any health food store and a little goes a long way. No, you will not fail the piss test by brushing your teeth with it.

Instead of regular deodorant I prefer a deodorant stone, it is scent free, and will not melt in the heat. I bring along waterless soap and shampoo in case the water supply should become scarce. Never shave or wash if you can not rinse off all of the soap. In the desert heat it will cause an unbearable rash and itch.  A small bottle of pine tar based shampoo should be part of your kit, as it is very soothing to irritated skin and scalp.  The desert is a nasty place full of germs and creeping crud that you never even heard of. So it is important that you keep as clean as possible.

The Middle East is even home to Malaria, so good bug juice  is a must; especially near the coast where more water is available to breed the nasty little critters. Since medical help can be a good distance away, I keep a copy of the book “Ditch Medicine” with me at all times.

First Aid items should include the following; daytime sinus meds, nighttime sinus meds, Benadryl tablets and liquid for itching and bug bites, extra strength pain meds, and Tylenol PM or something like it. Also include plain aspirin, 2.5% iodine solution for cuts and abrasions which can also be used for water purification (5 drops per quart of water), mild laxative, anti-diarrhea, snake bite kit, and saline solution to moisten the sinus cavity  and to clean wounds.  Add lots of dental floss, an extra tooth brush, and mega quantities of Q-tips for your ears and your weapon. Keep in mind, some medications cause dehydration. Always be aware you may need to drink more water with certain medications. When taking prescriptions check with your doctor.

In the desert never ever go anywhere; winter or summer, without water. If water is readily available, drink as much as you can stand, summer and winter, at least a gallon a day or more if you are working hard.  Before I leave my residence I suck down a quart.

When you do not get enough water your system begins to shut down, you brain fogs over causing your performance and alertness to take a nose dive in hostile conditions; this will speed up the day of your death. We have a saying in the desert, “down in 12, dead in 24”. If you do not get enough water you will die. Best case you will become constipated to the point a doctor will have to clean you out or you will have to do it your self if one is not available.  The “Ditch” medical book shows a guy raking his own dung out with his finger. Not my idea of a good time and if I was a member of your team you would be on your own with that one. Without water you will become seriously ill to the point of hospitalization.

I have gone for up to 12 days without food in the desert, it is the least of your problems when you remember the rule of 3’s. When water is scarce, do not eat, you will use more water trying to digest the food then if you just did without. If food is available and if water is available; just not in large quantities, remember carbohydrates take much less water to digest than protein. So if you must eat go for the carbs.

Never take chances.  Always have more than enough water with you whenever possible. I like the camel back, but in a day back I carry two to three extra Nalgene collapsible 48 oz canteens. These canteens are great because as soon as the water is used they can be rolled up secured with a rubber band and tucked neatly out of the way in your pack.  I usually use them up first if possible and trust me, it does not take long.

Even though the military and civilian contractors do their best to purify the drinking water, you may be forced into a situation where you have to purify it yourself. I like iodine crystals. One small bottle will purify thousands of gallons of water and has no shelf life.  They will last in your pack forever unlike the tablets which have a shelf life.

I like a large knife that can be used for just about anything including digging.  I take the Anaconda by Hoods Woods, my custom 10 inch Fehrman, or my custom 12 inch Greco.There are a ton of good quality large blades out there for a reasonable price. Just make sure it has a straight blade, serrated are too hard to sharpen in the field. Look for a good quality carbon steal blade.  A lot of the stainless steel blades; besides being shinny and or serrated, is almost impossible to sharpen and it does not hold a good edge. To complement the large blade, I  take a light weight folding pocket clip Spiderco or Emerson with straight blades,  for the same  reason, serrated blades are too tough to sharpen when they get dull; a small  neck or boot knife,  and I never go anywhere without my Swiss Army Knife.  I like the one with the saw blade.

A knife is not complete with out a sharpening device of some type. However, a smooth stone, the back of another knife, the bottom of a porcelain cup or plate, and the edge of a car window  will all work in a pinch. If I have room I like to take a tomahawk or small belt ax, the ATAX by Cold Steal is another favorite.

Nothing beats a Surefire C2, but for every day use, I bring a couple of small PAL LED lights and a head light which has both LED and a high intensity bulb. The PAL is probably the best all around light on the market; it will burn for 200 continuous hours on one battery.  The PAL has an always-on setting that allows you enough light to get to the head or illuminate your handgun on the bedside or allow you to find it in the bottom of a dark pack. You can switch to a low light, bright light, and flashing bright strobe setting. This light does it all. One extra battery and the light will last for a few years.  Be sure and take extra batteries and bulb for your C2 and head lamp as well.

I like to have a small powerful pocket sized pair of binoculars with coated lenses on my person at all times.  Longer range binos should be taken if not issued by your particular service or unit. I go as far as taking a spotting scope that can be mounted on a vehicle,    the window of an upper room or on the roof of a building.

The desert is a different place without the proper long range vision equipment.  You will drive yourself nuts thinking you observed something you did not.  You may also become complacent, and allow someone to get too close because you have become de-sensitized to what you believe to be movement at a distance.

I have been carrying a sap and or a baton of some type in my back pocket or a special sap pocket sewn into my trousers since I served in the Marine Corps as added defensive equipment.  And as a back up to my sidearm, I have also been carrying a shrouded or bobbed hammered .38 or .357 Smith & Wesson snub nose (snubbie) in my weak side front pocket since that time as well.

I know things have changed.  However, if you are allowed to carry a back up or second gun, do so.  I recommend a revolver only because they always shoot even when pressed against a body; semi-autos will not fire if the action is just slightly pushed to the rear. If you purchase one of the new light weight or titanium models, and a good pocket holster, you won’t even know it is there until it is needed.  If you do not have a pocket holster, use a paper or Styrofoam cup, it works just as well in a pinch. In the old days, all we did was taking a piece of leather and put it in our pocket between the gun and our skin. With practice, you can get it out in a heart beat and empty it on target just about as fast. Even the .22 is effective as a second gun; especially with the hotter ammo available today.

As a side note I always carry a Ruger Mark II .22 on every survival trip and most missions. I love it, I can hit whatever I aim at and it will take a beating and continue to function in the worst of conditions. The only modification I have made to the gun is that I had the standard sights replaced with the fixed heavy duty three dot type.

Remember, a pocket gun is generally not your primary weapon.  You are drawing, punching it into a bad guys face, ribs, or wherever you can get a shot into him, so you can get away and take the additional appropriate action which could be nothing more than running away.  A light weight bullet proof vest will complete your ensemble. The heavier ones can be too much in the desert heat.

If you are working in a hostile environment and you are not a police officer. You have no obligation to arrest or warn any aggressor. A muzzle pointed in anyone’s direction is the international sign to halt.  If they choose to keep coming in your direction, your next step is sight alignment, sight picture, and trigger control as you squeeze rounds off until the threat is gone.

If you are being attacked in the Middle East, I can assure you the aggressor or aggressors are attempting to kill or capture you.  In my mind, neither is an option if I have anything to say about it.  Shoot them, hit them in the head, or any area where you can do the most damage with your sap, baton a rock or whatever you can get your hands on.  Go for strikes to the left side of the neck, spine, and dig out their eyes or whatever you have to do to win. A collapsible baton is nothing more than a steel rod with a soft handle. A short piece of re-bar with a little hundred mile and hour tape as a handle works just as well. As I said at the beginning, your survival begins in your brain.  If you do not have an item, improvise.

I am not now, and have never been a fan of military holsters, with the exception of the old Tanker model which I still use today.   It is a great ring for hauling your pistol to the shower, the head, and other locations where you need it handy but may not have the luxury of using a belt or  belt holster.

If you are issued or carry a pistol and your command staff insists you place it in a military issue flap holster, and will not authorize the use of a good high ride thumb break, I recommend that you do the following.   Next to my gun smith, my local shoe repairman is my best friend.  He gets his Christmas basket right on time every year.

When I was in the Marines we had several good officers who knew that our survival depended on good equipment and the ability to use it. We had a few others who would rather see you die then break a regulation so we had to improvise. Certain officers felt that the issue flap holster more than fit the bill. However, in the unit I served with, the officers rarely accompanied us to the field and maintained contact with us via radio.

At first we would wear our issue gear until we were out of sight depending on who our officer was, and then switch it with the good stuff so our 1911’s could be worn locked and cocked.  It occurred to us that it would be a very simple process to fool them every time.

We went to the surplus store and purchased a used issue leather flap holster and a good thumb break high rise. We took these to the shoe repairmen and had him remove the flap from the flap holster, and modify it to attach to the thumb break high rise. He did this with the issue snap and a “j” hook to the rear. When we walked into the field HQ, our holsters had the standard issue flap and no one gave them a second look, but as soon as we hit the door the flap came off exposing the thumb break.

Today’s issue holsters make that job much easier since all of the flaps come off, and the holster is a nylon material.  A shoe repairman  can make quick work of installing a good thumb break inside one of those, and  sewing it back together so no one will give it a second look, and the same  practice can be followed.

Do not buy a double or triple retention holster.  Some contractors issue them, get something else. All you need is to make sure the gun is held in securely enough so it does not fall out yet can readily be pulled into action.  Military holsters keep their owners from getting to the pistol quickly. Inside the pants holsters should only be used on special details, in the heat it will irritate your skin. Everything should be kept on your pants belt, in off duty type holsters or a tanker type holster when your pistol belt is not in use.

Anyone entering strange or remote territory should always keep a pocket survival kit on their person at all times.  I have two; one in my pocket and one attached to my big knife sheath.

I put the following items in my kit.  One turkey oven bag;  to cook, hold, or haul water folded to fit, one small, magnesium rod and flint,  one, one sided razor blade, several fish hooks to catch fish or birds; or to use as an expedient booby trap, two sewing needles, ten feet of dental floss for fishing line; or for use as thread, 2 feet of heavy duty aluminum foil folded to fit; which can be used as a signal mirror, a cup, or cook pot, two Ramen Noodle  soup flavoring packets, one button compass, five feet of snare wire, a small P38, one small plastic magnifying strip to start fires; or find small slivers in the hand, and four  water purification tablets laid flat and placed in cigarette cellophane rolled up and taped.  These items are placed in a water wallet, zip  locked on each side, and wrapped in black military duct tape to keep it secure.

A water wallet can be purchased at just about any sporting  goods store in the country. I get mine at Wal-Mart It is nothing more than two  heavy duty zip lock bags hooked together in the middle that when folded is the  size of a basic men’s wallet, only much thinner.  People buy them to take to the beach to carry their ID and some cash as they do not want to get it wet.  Some even have a neck strap. All of the items fit with room to spare. To fill any loose space I use cotton to make sure the items do not shift around which can later be used as tinder.

Although fuel for fires is not readily available in the desert, it is available in small quantities and can be a life saver at times,  just because it gives you a feeling of well being to have a hot beverage and a  little light in the darkness especially if you are lost and alone.

As stated earlier, I carry a small back pack wherever I go. Along with water, I have a map of the area, compass, pencil, pad of paper, night vision binos, small gun cleaning kit, extra ammo and magazines, a large P38 (easier on your fingers when you are in a weakened state or your fingers are  sore) a bivy bag which is very warm, water proof, take up little space, less  than a tube tent which I no longer carry since this takes care of my every  need.  Bivy bags are the coolest survival item to come out since the pocket  knife.  I included are heavy duty space blanket to use as a shelter and to reflect the sun, two pocket sized space blankets which can  be used as a sun reflecting poncho, make shift hat, sun glasses or to line my bivy bag, two chemical hand warmers, ear phone,  solar AM / FM radio, when tuned to AM, can be  used to find your location if lost by doing a crude form of radio direction  finding, if you are within 50 miles of a AM radio station. This is also another  article, stay tuned. A PAL light, leatherman, signal mirror, wooden or high heat  plastic spoon, GPS, protein powder, sports drink powder a small plastic reusable cup, a canteen cup or titanium pot; depending on the situation and a pocket or  whisper stove, with fuel, loose tea and some form of chow to include bouillon  cubes, plastic garbage bags to make plant evaporation stills and an extra 20 feet of Para-cord.

I do not carry any power bars or the like because they melt. I carry powders to mix with water. (Remember the rule to drink all you can in any form you can) Sports drink powders are great especially if you are sweating a lot to replace the lost electrolytes. If I do carry chow it is in the  form of an MRE, or the Coast Guard type ration that do not make you thirsty, and they do not melt and turn into a blob of goop in the bottom of my pack.

I bring several other items with me. These items are more for my comfort and piece of mind. An address book, which I keep secured with all  of my credit card info, contact names, numbers, addresses, emails and important  account numbers. You can even keep the info in code if you are of a mind too.  Just make it simple so you do not forget how to retrieve it and secure it so no one gets their hands on it. You may want to keep a second contact list and give it to your buddy or supervisor in case they need to contact a relative for you.

I bring a good deal of spices; they are light and very easy to pack.  I use jewelers zip lock bags which can be obtained at craft stores or www.survival.com to keep them in.  I like the hotter spices since the local or “scavenged food” may be so poor I need spices to cover the taste and kill whatever creeping crud is on the food.  I make soups and stews out of just about everything, to insure it is well cooked and I do not loose any of the nutrients in the cooking process.  It is also nice if you are preparing some of your own food  to have a taste of home. I keep a small pocket and a whisper stove since they  will burn just about any fuel available.

A titanium cook pot, wooden spoon, small reusable plastic  cup so I can eat and drink  without burning my mouth or hands; if I do not have  time to let the food cool, loose tea, (I can pack more than in bags), small coffee press and coffee are also important to pack.

I stay away from coffee for the most part in the desert.  I use it to treat myself and have a small one in the AM, otherwise, I drink  decaffeinated or low caffeine tea.  Tea quenches thirst, coffee promotes it. The more caffeine you consume the more water you have to consume to make up for it.  Caffeine is a major dehydrator.  Stronger coffees like espresso have less caffeine then a regular cup so I stick to the strong stuff usually with  chicory.  It lessens the caffeine even more and if you are on a lower protein diet, it helps reduce the bad cholesterol in your system.

I take cider vinegar powder and a small spray bottle to wash and disinfect fresh fruits and vegetables.  Cider vinegar will even kill dangerous bacteria on fresh meat but it should still be cooked well done.

If possible I take a few training items,  if you are working out of a base where you can store  some of your gear, they are worth the trouble. I do not take work out gear you do not need it, do push ups, crunches, etc.  When I am in an area  that does not allow regular range time, I take along a BB pistol that duplicates my primary sidearm. This allows me to practice my draw, trigger control point  shooting, sight alignment, sight picture, etc. I find them to be worth more than  their weight in gold for training in an area where shooting is unwelcome and ammo is limited.  I supplement with dry fire training with my carry weapon.

For entertainment I read when possible, I like the Bible because not only does it strengthen my faith, but you would be surprised how much you can learn about the middle east and how you can gain a lot of understanding about who you are dealing with.

I always take a wrist rocket to plink with, the ammo is free and readily available.  It has saved my butt more than once allowing me to take small game, and in some of the wonderful locations I have had the pleasure of , killing a few rats before going to sleep for the night.

On one occasion, it kept approximately 8 Turks from beating my brains in. Getting hit with a projectile launched from one of these little sling shots hurts like heck and would kill a man if it hit him in the right place.

I keep a journal if time permits, and learn every square inch of the area and surrounding territory when possible.  I know my time in country or on assignment is limited and eventually I will be leaving.  Having music blasting in my ears so I can not hear what is going on near me is not acceptable.  When on dangerous ground I want to know what is going on around me at all times. I try to use my time wisely and keep my mind occupied with the task at hand, coming home alive and well, as should you. Deployment to me was like going to school, learn what you can from those around you.

The time passes more quickly, and you do not make stupid mistakes, when you remain vigilant and focused on your job or keeping your skills sharp.  Keep your routine simple, your weapons serviceable, your travel unpredictable and your mission meaningful.



One Comment on "What to Take When Deploying To the Middle East"

  1. Ed on Tue, 3rd Nov 2009 1:40 PM 


    This needs to be formatted into a condensed, bulleted summary in the form of a checklist, printed onto the back of a silk escape map, dewrag or bandanna with some basic survival tips and Gunny’s Wisdom which could be given away to troops or packed in their PX rations with the pogey bait.

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