Before you go to Afghanistan in general, but in particular before you go to a PRT (that is, a Provincial Reconstruction Team -- the reason I'm headed to Farah), everyone's got advice on what to bring.
Definitely bring a flashlight and a leatherman; you'll constantly need to do light industrial repairs. Be sure to bring a sleeping bag, and you'll need a backpack for overnight missions. Buy a hand-held GPS so you can give coordinates if you need to call in a medivac. Definitely bring a kindle; no, don't bother with a kindle -- you'll never have time to read. You'll need chemical lights. Don't forget granola bars and other high-energy non-perishable foods. Unless you're keen on bleeding to death, purchase and carry a tourniquet with you at all times.
And so on: everyone's got something that they couldn't have lived without when they were in the field in Iraq, or that their cousin told them they wished they'd left at home when he deployed to Afghanistan, or that their fiancee asked them to mail while they were supporting a PRT, or whatever.
Today was gear distribution today, and I was under the impression that we'd be getting body armor and a helmet (made entirely of kevlar and called, appropriately, a "kevlar"), and maybe a laptop to go with it, although maybe not since maybe the guy I'm replacing already has a laptop and maybe I'll just take his.
And so I was quite surprised when the packing list of gear they distributed took up more than one page, with half of the things I'd been told to buy and a lot of which I'd lugged from home handed over for free by the Embassy. For posterity's sake, I'm going to include the whole list here, in the hopes that it may help other people who are headed to PRTs in Afghanistan with their planning and save them from purchasing and hauling over a lot of unnecessary gear.
Embassy Provided Gear:
-- Body Armor (including plates) and Kevlar Helmet
-- A laptop (with the promise of a second laptop later), with mouse.
-- 8 port ethernet router
-- 500 gig external hard drive and an 8 gig memory stick
-- Digital Camera with 4 gig memory card
-- Iridium Satellite Phone
-- Ballistic Sunglasses, including both tinted and clear plastic lenses.
-- Hand-held Garmin E-Trex GPS device
-- Fireproof Nomex flight suit
-- Fireproof Nomex protective gloves
-- Sleeping bag
-- Leatherman multi-tool, including a carrying case
-- First Aid Kit, in a camouflage bag that can be worn on a belt
-- Water purification tablets
-- A "rescue flash" signal mirror
-- A "heat sheet" space blanket
-- Chemical light sticks
-- A keychain-style "microlight" flashlight
-- A flashlight, in a carrying case
-- A miner-style headlight flashlight
-- Trauma shears/medical scissors
-- Ear plugs
-- A big, plastic, rolling "gorilla box" to carry it all in
-- Padlock for the gorilla box.
The only recommended item they did NOT/NOT include was a tourniquet.
And now I'm off to mail home an unnecessary sleeping bag and other crap I no longer need.