Thursday, March 20, 2008

D-320: Packing for Iraq

Aside from completing the medical portion of my checklist, I am just about complete with my pre-deployment line items. My ECRC checklist is now 2 days late from the mandatory 14 day deadline, but what can I do, my physical isn't done. I e-mailed the ECRC help desk to ask if they want me to send them an incomplete checklist on time, or a completed checklist a week late, no response yet - so I'll just guess.

I know I won't be able to get the eyewear before I go to NMPS, so I e-mailed the medical help desk and asked if this was going to be a problem, the response basically said:
"The eyewear is always a problem. NMPS may or may not be able to get your eyewear ready in time. If you arrive without it, there is a good chance you will have to go forward to training without it... But you will need eyewear."
This left me scratching my head a bit; I now know I need it, but I may not get it? Not sure, so whatever. I plan on buying 18 months worth of throw away contact lenses, and buying a pair of Wiley-X goggles. I don't care about glasses because I hate wearing them, and I have a pair for emergency use anyway. As for the gas mask inserts and ballistic eyewear, I'd rather have plain old non-prescription ones because I plan on wearing my contacts all the time. My vision is not that bad anyway, so if I had to go to the head without contacts in, it's not like I'll accidentally walk into a mosque in downtown Baghdad.

I have been looking for a consolidated "shit-to-pack" list since I was first handed these orders. One does not seem to exist, I've tried every help desk, I've e-mailed my gaining command, I've e-mailed my buddies who have went before. I only have the following gouge:
  • Buy a great big bag with wheels. My buddy Scott says the Osprey SpaceStation 140 will do nicely. This god-damned thing is $249.00, but I think it's probably worth it.
  • Wiley X Sunglasses: A couple of Marines told me these are top of the line for not only blocking the hellish sun but also keeping sand and shit out of your eyes. Between $80-$100, these seem well worth it to me.
  • Laptop Computer: Well fuck, this is getting expensive. I'm told a laptop makes life a million times better. Besides watching movies and playing games, many of the trailers can get wired for like $60/month, giving constant e-mail access, web-camming, and allowing me to keep up with my memoirs, cementing my place in history for all time. All that seems worth $750. Oh, and here's the rub; apparently the sand in Iraq gets all over everything and plays havoc on electronics, so this laptop will likely be a piece of FOD once I return. I'm looking at a Dell Inspiron 1525, but may still just go to Tigerdirect and buy the cheapest one I can find. I'm undecided, but I know I want to have a built in webcam, and enough power to be able to run vegas studio so I can make stupid movies (I aspire to be a youtube star as well as a blogger star - the sky is the limit!)
  • Two pairs of civvies, shower shoes, towel: OK done.
That's pretty much the extent of the advice that I've gotten. I'm open to any suggestions.

I heard somewhere, that there is a whole office full of people in Norfolk who are dedicated to helping IAs deploy. I assume that is where all these e-mail that I'm sending are going. The average turn-around time on a help-desk e-mail is 2-3 days. Now, maybe I'm crazy, but when I think of "help-desk," I picture a fucking desk! With a person sitting in a chair, and likely staring at a the screen of a computer. I really don't think it is unreasonable to expect a response to simple questions in 10 minutes. However, aside from bitching about it here, I have little recourse. I can call and leave messages, or I can write e-mails. The next step is to go tattle to my O-6 boss, and have him start calling other O-6s and screaming that his guy isn't getting support. Then heads start rolling and hard feelings abound. So while I don't have an intermediate option, I still don't want to stir the hornet's nest, so I'll just figure it out myself.

I am not going to spend much more time worrying about this crap anyway, I am going to Boston this weekend with a bunch of friends. Then I am going to come back and check off this shopping list, and plan a weekend in Charleston with my wife for the last weekend of Fort Jackson.
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