October 28, 2009

Name: Bouhammer, Old Blue, WOTN, Vampire 06
Posting date: 10/28/09
Milblog: Afghan Lessons Learned For Soldiers

This is one of a series of posts designed to help and inform the thousands of troops headed to Afghanistan, some of whom had expected to deploy to Iraq. Those who thought they were headed to Iraq now find themselves behind the power curve in coming up to speed on the peculiarities of Afghanistan.

The first version of the list below was published in January, 2007, and is the single most popular post ever put up on It lists good equipment to have, based on our experiences and those of our friends.

Some of these things won’t be needed until you get in country, so you may want to set those off to the side and have them sent once you get settled.

1. Any extra Class VIII you can bring with you is good to have.

2. Wolf Hook Single Point Slings.

3. Desert Tan spray paint.

4. Space blanket(s).

5. 100 mph tape, 550 cord, TP, other expendables you think would come in handy.

6. Drop Leg Holster (BlackHawk or SERPA) and Uncle Mike’s Paddle-Holster for wearing around every day (drop leg will wear a hole in ACUs over time). I also have one for my IBA so I can have my 9mm handy when in the gun hatch going through towns.

7. Weapons lube that doesn't attract sand. (Miltech or Remington Dry Lube only).

8. Two copies of addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, etc.

9. 2 pairs of good boot insoles.

10. A good tactical flashlight (SureFire, even though you will get issued one with M4).

11. Red/white light L.E.D. headlamp.

12. Spare pair of running shoes.

13. MP3 player with estra pair of headphones.

14. Enough batteries to last you 30 days.

15. ChapStick.

16. Lotion.

17. 30 SPF or higher sunblock.

18. Bar soap -- for some reason it's almost always in short supply.

19. Small compact rolls of TP. A lot of places make travel size. Half the time you get to a Porta-Potti and the jackA$s before you yanked the TP.

20. Baby wipes -- 30 days' worth. Expect that the power and water will either go out, or the water will be contaminated, at least once a month.

21. Gold Bond Foot and Body Powder.

22. Small clip-on LED light. Clip it to your IBA. It will come in handy -- quite often.

23. Drink mix for 16- and 20-ounce bottles of water.

24. Weightlifting supplies.

25. Small photo album with pics from home.

26. Hand sanitizer (small bottles to put in ankle pockets).

27. More books/magazines than you think you will need.

28. DVDs, for you and to loan out for swapping purposes.

29. Tactical gloves -- military gloves are sort of clumsy. ( I love the $9.95 whitewater brand gloves from the clothing sales.) Also standard flight Nomex are good.

30. Lens anti-fog agent. Shaving cream works in a pinch, but you have to apply it every other day or so.

31. Good pair of shower shoes/sandals. I recommend the black Adidas -- lasted me all year.

32. Small pillow (air inflatable).

33. Cheap digital camera (at least 2.1 mp).

34. Boot knife.

35. Gerber multitool.

36. Fabreze -- sometimes the laundry opportunities are few and far between.

37. Armor Fresh.

38. Extra boot laces.

39. Stainless steel coffee cup with screw-on lid.

40. Soccer shorts/normal T-shirt to sleep in, hang out in your room in.

41. Sweatshirts for wintertime hanging around

42. A couple of poncho liners for privacy, cover for nasty mattress, etc.

43. A set of twin sheets with pillow case.

44. Good regular-size pillow.

45. One or two good civilian bath towels.

46. Buy a good set (more than $200) of winter desert boots. All they will give you is a regular summer set and a set of Gore-Tex-lined for waterproof needs. Desert is a cold place at these altitudes in the wintertime.

47. Bring a laptop. Also may want a PSP or some other handheld gaming device.

48. Get an external USB harddrive (greater than 120 GB). You will need this to back up data to, and to store movies and MP3s that you will fall in on from previous teams.

49. Get a Skype account and download the software from This is how I talk to home 95% of the time. If you call computer-to-computer, it is totally free. You can also Skype out from your computer to a regular phone for 2.1 cents a minute. There is nothing cheaper than that.

50. Decent headset with mic for computer (Skype).

51. Webcam for video calls back home.

52. Bring a minimum of 18 each M4 magazines per person. Nine that are loaded and nine that rest. Plan to do M4 mag changeover once per month.

53. Bring 8 each 9-mm mags, for same reason above. Change these over every two weeks.

54. Order a LULA Magazine Loader & Unloader. It will be the best $14 piece of plastic you every bought. I have 12 mags loaded at all times, and when I do change over, it will do it in a fraction of the time and save your hands and save the ammo.

55. Try to get your state to get, or purchase yourself, one 12V DC to 110V AC inverter per man for your trucks. They are crucial on mission to charge personal items, cell phone, ICOMs, and especially ANA radios (they only have rechargeable batteries).

56. Dump the IBA tactical vest you get issued. Get a Tactical Tailor MAV chest rig. (Does not matter if you get  a one-piece or two-piece, as you want to keep the front open for lying in the prone. You don’t want mags pushing into your chest making it hard to breathe.)  I wish I had bought mine at the start. It makes a huge difference on the back and shoulders when carrying a loaded rig.

57. Get a comfortable pair of desert boots. I wear only the Converse eight-inch assault boots (non-zipper ones). Oakley, Bates, and several others are similar in style and comfort.

58. Bring some good snivel gear for the wintertime. Extra polypro winter hat, gloves, neck gators, etc.

59. Lock deicer for the wintertime.

60. Disposable hand and feet warmers.

61. Canned air, lots of it for electronics, weapons, etc.

62. Lens wipes for optics.

63. Screen wipes for computers.

New Updates from an ETT in 2009:

64. Firing Pin Retaining Pins. Brownells is a good source.

65. DVD ripping program for your laptop, so you can transfer all your DVDs to electrons and store on a hard drive.

66. A good assault pack. I have one from Tactical Assault Gear with aluminum stays in it for support. It's been a lifesaver several times. The one the Army issues is a P.O.S.

67. MBITR pouch from Tactical Tailor.

68. An aviator's kneeboard.

69. Personal GPS (Garmin, etc).

There are probably many other things that could go on this list, but a lot of that is personal preference. The purpose of this list is to provide some insight into things that could make anyone’s tour easier. Feel free to add your own tips via Comments.


Good list, however, I have to say that the myth that magazines need "rest" once a month is a myth. Any metallurgist will tell you that magazine springs are worn not by staying compressed for long periods, but by the act of repetitious uncompression. Magazines that have been kept fully loaded for decades will function just fine. Those that are constantly being loaded/reloaded will wear out. You are actually wearing your springs faster by doing the load/download ritual. Now granted, you do need to clean them periodically and the feed lips can potentially get out of shape. That is one reason magpul P mags have a dust cover that keeps pressure off the feed lips and dirt out of the inside of the mag.

If I wanted to send some of that stuff to replenish a soldiers stock, where would I send it to?

This is a good, complete list. However, my son @ FOB Wilson tells me that he has about 6 feet of personal space. He says that he has NO room for all of the good stuff that I send to him (expect the food, of course. There's always room in his stomach!) Any suggestions on how they can shelve/store all of the "stuff" on this list? Just not enough room in those smelly tents!!!

WOW! Now I know whats in those mountinous packs that soldiers carry.

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To a civilian it is interesting to read that list. You don't appreciate the gear needed by these guys.

Hello,nice articl, very great ! so cool ! I like it very much!I have learn mcuch from it ! Thank you for your sharing!

Thanks for making the pattern available so quickly. hmmm, maybe i can re-prioritize some projects. who am i fooling? i'm going to go buy more yarn.

It is a well documented list. I absolutely believe that you can use it in Afganisthan.
Very well done. Everyone can add to this list some personal stuff.


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ince overheating can lead to fire, don't use a high-wattage bulb in such a fixture.

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