Desert Deployment Gear List

Check out this US Army Desert Deployment gear list used in a recent desert deployment to Afghanistan.

We try to pack light but also realize that you always need that one piece of trick gear that you left back home – so we threw in a few extra items on our last tour overseas.

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The Oakley LT Assault 2 Boot boasts impressive features that cater to both durability and style. Made with a suede upper fabric, it offers reflective details on the ankle, ensuring visibility in various conditions. Its Cordura Fabric, known for its strength and abrasion resistance, enhances the boot’s ruggedness. The braided lacing with metal eyelets contributes to a secure and snug fit.

Customer reviews for these boots have been overwhelmingly positive. Users appreciate their value, comfort, quality, and appearance. Many users praised its great appearance for the price and highlighted that their feet have remained pain-free while wearing these well-constructed boots. However, a few users noted small issues like slipping laces and the need to replace the insoles. Overall, these boots seem to be favored for their lightweight construction, making them comfortable for various activities, although some users suggested caution in wet or colder conditions.

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The ACU Surplus Combat Shirt stands as an authentic and utilitarian piece, designed for rugged performance in demanding environments. This shirt is meticulously crafted to offer a snug fit, ensuring a comfortable, moisture-wicking front paired with durable sleeves for enhanced protection. Ideal for bushcraft, outdoor excursions, and range training, its innovative design prioritizes functionality, making it an excellent choice for diverse tactical activities. Its cooling front feature provides comfort and reduces bulkiness, a crucial factor when pairing it with a tactical vest for added convenience. It’s important to note that these shirts may consist of various brands such as Massif, all adhering to the same high-quality standards.

Featuring the U.S. military issue ACS (Army Combat Shirt) and proudly made in the USA, this ACU Surplus Combat Shirt boasts the distinctive ACUPAT Camo (Army Combat Uniform Pattern). Specifically designed as a stand-alone shirt for the Army Combat Uniform, it seamlessly fits under the Improved Outer Tactical Vest.

The incorporation of 4-way stretch fabric empowers wearers with flexibility and mobility during dynamic movements. Moreover, its flame-resistant properties and resistance to high-heat flashes ensure safety in high-risk environments. The inclusion of lightweight, abrasion-resistant elbow pads further underscores the shirt’s commitment to both comfort and protection, making it an indispensable gear choice for tactical professionals and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

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The Streamlight 88061 ProTac 1L-1AA 350-Lumen Dual Fuel Tactical Flashlight represents a pinnacle of durability, versatility, and performance. This ultra-compact powerhouse is an ideal everyday carry light, compatible with a single lithium or alkaline battery, offering unparalleled flexibility in various environments. With its rugged 6000 Series machined aircraft aluminum case, impact-resistant borofloat glass lens, and IPX7 waterproof rating, this flashlight is built to endure extreme conditions. The ProTac 1L-1AA stands out for its advanced LED technology, providing 350 lumens on high mode with a beam reaching 160 meters using a CR123A lithium battery, ensuring maximum light output throughout its battery life.

The flashlight’s design prioritizes ease of use with a multi-function tactical tail switch, allowing for one-handed operation and selection between momentary, variable intensity, or strobe modes. The TEN-TAP programmable switch offers flexibility with three different user-selectable programs: high/strobe/low (factory default), high only, or low/high. Additionally, this flashlight comes packaged with a nylon holster, a CR123A lithium battery, and an “AA” alkaline battery, ensuring immediate usability out of the box. Weighing only 2.5 ounces with the CR123 battery and 2.8 ounces with the AA alkaline battery, this lightweight and compact tool is an indispensable companion for both tactical applications and everyday use.

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with a red lamp lens for tactical purpose. A good one is the Petzl TacTikka 3-LED Headlamp with Red Flip-Up Lens


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.

Two pairs of good boot insoles. We prefer the Superfeet insoles.

A good battle sling for your M4 (AR-15).

  1. A good clip on LED Light

  2. Space All Weather Blanket are always good to have as a backup in case you need to bivvy for the night or your buddy gets cold.

  3. Duck tape, 550 cord, Toilet paper,and other basic personal stuff.

6.BlackHawk holster and Uncle Mike’s 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 9 mm handy when in the gun hatch going through towns.

  1. Weapons lube that doesn’t attract grit and sand (Miltech or Remington Rem DriLube aerosol).

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

  3. Spare pair of trail running shoes. You occasionally get to work out on base or walk in a secure area and a good pair of trail running shoes are comfortable and gives your feet a break from boots.

  4. MP3 player with extra pair of headphones.

  5. Enough batteries to last you 30 days.

  6. ChapStick.

  7. Lotion.

  8. 30 SPF or higher sunblock.

  9. Bar soap—for some reason it’s almost always in short supply.

  10. Small, compact rolls of TP. A lot of places make travel size.

  11. 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.

  12. Take care of your feet with Gold Bond Medicated Foot Powder and Body Powder.

  13. Desert Tan spray paint to camp our your gear.

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

  15. Weightlifting supplies.

  16. Small photo album with pics from home.

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

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

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

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

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

  22. Small pillow (air inflatable).

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

  24. Boot knife.

  25. Gerber multi-plier tool.

  26. Febreze—sometimes the laundry opportunities are few and far between.

  27. Armor Fresh.

  28. Extra bootlaces.

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

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

  31. Sweatshirts for wintertime hanging around.

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

  33. A set of twin sheets with pillowcase.

  34. Good regular-size pillow.

  35. One or two good civilian bath towels.

  36. 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.

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

  38. Get an external USB hard drive (greater than 60 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.

  39. Get a Skype account and download the software from This is how I talk to home 95 percent 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.

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

  41. Webcam for video calls back home.

  42. 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.

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

  44. Order a LULA Magazine Loader & Unloader. It will be the best $14 piece of plastic you ever 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.

  45. 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 for charging personal items, cell phone, ICOMs, and especially ANA radios (they only have rechargeable batteries).

  46. Dump the IBA tactical vest you get issued. Get a Tactical Tailor MAV chest rig. (Does not matter if you get one-piece or twopiece, 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 Bring some good snivel gear for the wintertime. Extra polypro winter hat, gloves, neck gators, etc.

  1. Lock de-icer for the wintertime.

  2. Disposable hand and feet warmers.

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

  4. Lens wipes for optics.

  5. Screen wipes for computers.


The U.S. Army has been involved in desert warfare in various conflicts and operations throughout its history. Here are some notable examples of U.S. Army desert warfare engagements:

Operation Desert Storm (1990-1991): Also known as the Gulf War, this was one of the most significant desert warfare operations involving the U.S. Army. It aimed to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. The U.S. Army, along with a coalition of forces, conducted a massive air and ground campaign against Iraqi forces, leading to the successful liberation of Kuwait.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011): This operation was launched to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. U.S. Army units played a central role in combat operations, including the initial invasion in 2003 and subsequent stability operations and counterinsurgency efforts in the desert terrain of Iraq.

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan (2001-Present): Although primarily a mountainous and rugged environment, parts of Afghanistan consist of arid desert terrain. The U.S. Army has been involved in combat operations and counterinsurgency efforts in these regions, particularly in the southern and southwestern areas.

Operation Inherent Resolve (2014-Present): This ongoing military campaign aims to counter the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. U.S. Army Special Forces and conventional units have been involved in advising and assisting local forces in desert areas, such as the Anbar Province in Iraq.

Operation Desert Shield (1990): This operation preceded Operation Desert Storm and involved the deployment of U.S. Army forces to Saudi Arabia to deter Iraqi aggression after the invasion of Kuwait. Desert Shield marked the beginning of U.S. military involvement in the Gulf War.

Operation Eagle Claw (1980): This operation was an unsuccessful attempt to rescue American hostages held in Iran after the U.S. Embassy takeover. The US Army elite unit Delta Force was tasked with that operation. While the rescue mission took place in an arid desert region, it ended in a tragic helicopter crash and mission failure.

Operation Urgent Fury (1983): Although not a full-fledged desert operation, this operation involved the deployment of U.S. Army Rangers and other units to the Caribbean island of Grenada, which has some arid and desert-like terrain. The mission aimed to restore order and protect American citizens and students on the island.

These examples demonstrate the U.S. Army’s capability to operate effectively in desert environments, which require unique tactics, logistics, and equipment due to the challenging conditions, extreme temperatures, and vast open spaces.

Question: How do you stay warm in the desert at night?

To stay warm in the desert at night, it’s crucial to prepare for the temperature drop that often occurs after sundown. Start by layering clothing to trap body heat, including thermal or moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a windproof outer layer. Utilize materials like wool or synthetic fabrics that retain warmth even when damp. Before sunset, set up camp in a sheltered area away from wind, using a tent or constructing a makeshift windbreak if necessary. Once settled, change into dry clothes and consider using a sleeping bag rated for colder temperatures than the expected nighttime low.

Additionally, heating elements like hot water bottles or chemical hand warmers placed inside the sleeping bag can provide added warmth throughout the night. Avoid sweating before bedtime to prevent moisture buildup, as dampness can make you feel colder. Lastly, keep hydrated and consume warm beverages or a high-calorie snack before sleeping, as the digestion process generates body heat, aiding in staying warm during chilly desert nights.

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Answer: Check out the Navy website here:

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