The one thing nobody ever talks about with deployments is the insane boredom that comes between missions. Times have changed since the “Wild West” days of the early 2000s when even having an outlet was a luxury.
Things got a little less monotonous, but they haven’t changed much. The troops are still sitting at the same USO, playing on the same broken foosball table, watching the same videos that have been shared by everyone.
Here are some pro tips that help make deployment a little less tedious.
1. Ramen coffee maker
There was nothing more valuable than a cheap coffee maker than every PX larger than the back of a semi-truck sold. Even then, they would probably still sell them.
Instead of using it for coffee like S-3 officers do, place the ramen noodles in the glass carafe and the powder on top, where the hot water will eventually run out. This will save you time on the run to the dining room or save you another night of MRE (depending on your level of POG-ieness).
2. MRE hacks
You can talk about the sweetness of MREs for months at a time, but there is hope: you can combine your way through any MRE, it just takes a lot of ratf * cking a bunch of ingredients several other MREs. It is common knowledge to combine cocoa powder, coffee, sugar and creamer to make Ranger pudding, but with enough creativity, you can move to the next level.
Taken to extremes, even the dreaded old egg and cheese omelet (which was thankfully taken years ago, long enough to make it inedible by Army standards) could be mixed with the stew of beef and crackers to make it “decent”.
If all else fails, ask family members to send in some inexpensive seasonings like Lowry’s or Tony Chachere’s.
3. Hit all that inter-unit bullshit * t
There is no reason to keep the “screw platoon (regardless of MOS)!” Don’t stop playful jokes – but don’t be silly either. One team, one fight.
Everyone has a thing or two that can help everyone while on deployment. Commo always has batteries and new movies. Doctors always have medical supplies and hygiene items. Chaplin assistants always have the best care packages. The mechanics always have cigarettes. The list goes on.
4. Living space
If you can manage to get a bunk bed all to yourself, you have it.
Instead of storing equipment on the empty bunk, hollow out the lower bunk and support it with plywood. This way you can use this space for your own bedroom. Complete with sturdy furniture and one of those inexpensive lawn chairs.
5. Cotton sock cooler
Troops always deploy to nasty parts of the world – usually hot, crazy climates. It gets so bad that the drinking water gets so hot that you are more thirsty after drinking it than before taking a sip.
Here’s the solution: Take a single cotton sock and moisten it. Put a bottle of fresh water from the dining room or the S-shop mini-fridge and stick the bottle in the sock.
The possible evaporation helps to cool the water bottle inside. Same concept behind sweating. Because Science. It won’t relieve boredom much, but at least you’ll feel better.
6. Postal service is faster than Connex
Deploying into the sandbox and returning to the United States, the troops divided their equipment and personal effects into two categories: the items they take on the plane with them and those they send with the connex ( which arrives months later).
Why not divide it into a third? Things too bulky for the plane, but things you would want immediately. By the time you get the APO address, send in your Xbox, cheap TV, equipment that might be useful, and additional personal supplies (hygiene items, ramen noodles, etc.)
Same offer for your return trip.
7. Scorpions glow under UV light. A weird way to kill boredom, but we’ll take it.
If you’re deployed to a remote station in the middle of nowhere, you’ve probably noticed a few scorpions.
Spotting them as you walk at night is difficult. Since the scorpions are glowing, grab a black light flashlight to guide you.
8. MOLLE pouch for your Woobie
In the PX, there are countless amounts of “sort of” military equipment that no one is ever issued and for which no one really has a purpose. The M249 SAW ammo pouch, however, can be useful for a lot of things.
If you are sent on multi-day missions, this pouch is perfect for your Woobie. No need to awkwardly dig into your assault bag when the ammo pouch is to the side.
9.50 Cal Brass as a cigarette cover
We Are The Mighty does not encourage smoking. But if you must smokeâ¦
Every smoker who goes without a cigarette for an extended period of time can tell you that you can spot a cigarette a few blocks away.
During the day, the smoke floats and reveals your position. The glow of cigarettes is especially dangerous at night, which can give a sniper a bright red target to aim for.
Take a spent .50 caliber brass from the Ma Deuce and place it on the cigarette if you just need to have one during the mission. But still don’t do anything about the smell.
10f. No one is as stealthy as they think they are
It should sound obvious, but with your whole platoon squashed into a small tent on a small outpost, there is very little privacy. The sooner you realize this, the sooner your squad will stop laughing at you.
If you think you can piss in a Gatorade bottle without everyone in the tent hearing it because you’re too lazy to get out of your bunk, you’re wrong. The same goes for everything that happens in the tent.