Deployments can come any time -- Are you ready?

  • Published
  • By Col. John McCafferty
  • 71st Medical Group
The current world situation makes it more important for you to be prepared for deployment.
The most recent time I was deployed, I didn't know it was coming until I got a phone call a little before noon on a Saturday, "Can you get to (combat arms training and maintenance) by noon?"
I didn't get there until about 12:15 p.m., but doing your firearms qualification on a Saturday of a three-day weekend is strong hint you're deploying real soon. I went through the deployment line at 2 the next morning and went to Bahrain, then Oman, then to Kandahar, Afghanistan. And it turned out to be for six months.
The take-home lesson here is, you should be "no-kidding" fully ready to deploy, even if you're not "in the bucket." I wasn't, so here are some tips to make sure you are prepared:
Personal mobility bag
Keep it fully ready at all times. Also, it's a good idea to have the extra items you'd want to take with you ready, too. If you get a short-notice deployment, it's inevitable you'll forget things if they're not pre-packed.
Consider the mandatory minimum personal items list and the additional mandatory equipment list that comes down from the supported combatant command. Please note that mandatory means mandatory. One common mistake some people have made is communicating with the person they are supposed to replace and getting bad advice, such as, "Oh, you don't really need to bring (fill in the blank), even though it is on the required equipment list."
We've had examples of individuals who did not bring a flak vest because people where the person deploying was going didn't wear them at the time the advice was given, but later the need to wear them arose. How about leaving some uniforms at home to make room for more civilian clothes and finding yourself at a base that only allows the wear of uniforms or physical training clothes? Also, keep in mind you may go to another location once you get there. I ended up being at five different bases in five different countries during my most recent deployment.
If you're single, do you have a plan to keep your parents or other family informed? If you're married, do you have a plan to ensure your spouse is able to get by while you're gone? Will your family know how to communicate with you in your deployed location? Do they know how to reach a point of contact at your unit -- the commander, first sergeant or supervisor, for example -- in case of emergency? A deployment is a real test of your family care plan - I've seen ones that looked good on paper but did not work in the real world. As a military member, you are responsible to have realistic, workable family care plans.
Do you have a will? The deployment line is not the place to hurry through such an important document. You should have one, even if you're single. Do you have power of attorney documents needed to manage your affairs while you are gone? Keep in mind you will need very specifically-prepared, special powers of attorney for actions such as accessing your military pay or registering a motor vehicle. The legal office can accomplish these for you at no cost.
Remember your MyPay personal identification number? Do you know how to file a travel accrual payment request online? How are you going to pay your rent, car payment, insurance, credit cards, etc?
Many deployed situations will allow you to continue educational work by correspondence or online.
Take contact information for your family and friends as well as home base agencies you may have to deal with during your deployment. Take Defense Switch Network base operator numbers for military installations near your family and friends for morale call purposes. Don't forget, a sister service or Reserve component installation may support this function. Videophones may also be available at your deployed location.
Use these tips to be prepared.