I finished with the paperwork side of things a few weeks ago, but I’ve got a long way to go before I leave for Iraq. Two weeks — that’s how long I’ve got before I leave. I stopped by a store today to get a pair of hiking boots, my first real provisioning for the trip.
It’s the 31st, and I leave on the 15th. I’ve got two weeks to get the following (from the USF–Iraq embed checklist):
As an embedded journalist, you must provide:
1. Hygiene items
• Shower shoes
• Feminine hygiene products
• Toilet paper (optional for when you are away from the compound)
• Baby wipes (optional)
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Waterproof sunscreen
4. Flashlights (include red lenses)
5. Climate appropriate clothing – Mid Oct-Mid May nights are cooling down and it gets very cold in the desert. By the end of NOV temps can drop to below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and vary by 50 degrees during the day. Dress in layers and pack a rain- resistant shell or jacket during this time frame. In the summer months the heat is extreme. Bring light, loose clothing and a hat for protection from the sun when not wearing your protective gear.
6. Phone (optional)
7. Equipment needed for filing/transmitting media products
8. Hand carry all prescription medication and a full supply to last throughout your embed.
9. Bug repellent (with Deet)
10. Cash and/or Debit Card (PX accepts debit/credit cards but card system may not always be functioning)
11. Ballistic Equipment (protective vest* & helmet) (LEVEL IV recommended), ballistic eye protection, long sleeves required for transportation on military aircraft.
Most of it I’ve got or can get pretty quickly. The ballistic equipment I’m renting, except for the eye protection, which I ordered and should be arriving soon.
It’s still surreal, but it’s getting more real quickly. Two weeks isn’t long. I better get ready…