Deployments

Throwback Thursday Classic Post – Deployment Gear Lists

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The gear you need for a deployment will obviously depend on the type of deployment, but every time I deploy I take a look at the gear lists I have to see what I might need to bring that I’m forgetting.  Some of the gear lists and deployment checklists I have are old and I don’t even know who created them, but I wanted to post them so people could use them if they so desired.  Here they are:

CDR Temerlin’s Gear Organization

Deployment Checklist 1

Deployment Checklist 2

Deployment Checklist 3

Recommended Blackhawk Stomp II Load

Thanks to Steve Temerlin and whoever else created these, and if you have any gear/deployment lists you’d like to share just use the Contact Me tab and you’ll then be able to send them to me over e-mail once I reply.

Throwback Thursday Classic Post – Types of Deployments

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This post will help you learn all that you can about deployments. I’ve done three deployments, one as a General Medical Officer (GMO) during the initial invasion of Iraq, and two after residency. In 2010, I deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and in 2016 I deployed to Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). In addition, as both a Detailer and Emergency Medicine Specialty Leader I’ve deployed a number of physicians, so I’m pretty familiar with all the details of the current deployment situation.

In the current operational environment, there are a few types of deployments. They include platform-based deployments, individual augmentee (IA) deployments, global support assignment (GSA) deployments, and what I’ll call parent unit deployments.

Let’s deal with the last one first because it is the easiest to explain. For what I’ll call a parent unit deployment, you deploy when your parent unit deploys. For example, if you are assigned to the Marine Corps with a MEU, when that MEU deploys so do you. You go with the unit you are primarily assigned to. The same could be said for a medical battalion, a Preventive Medicine Unit, and many other units.

A platform-based deployment happens to people who are stationed at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Commands/Units (NMRTC/NMRTUs). Some people who are primarily stationed at NMRTCs are assigned to what is called a “platform.” A platform is an operational unit of some kind. It could be the MERCY or COMFORT, a Marine Corps unit, an Expeditionary Medical Facility, etc. In essence, it is an operational unit who “owns” you if they get activated or deployed. In other words, if your platform is a medical battalion and that medical battalion gets deployed, you would go with them because it is your platform. If your platform regularly drills or does exercises, since it is your platform you may have to participate in these drills and get pulled away from your primary duties at your NMRTC.

How is it decided whether you get placed on a platform, and if so which one? The main determinant is most likely which billet you get orders into. Some billets at NMRTCs have secondary assignments to platforms. For example, the billet I was in at NMRTC Portsmouth was “mobilized to” or “MOB’ed to” an Expeditionary Medical Facility. That was my platform. To be honest, sometimes commands will rearrange platforms, so it is not always determined by the billet you are in. If you want to know if you are on a platform, you will have to go to your command’s Plans, Operations, Medical Intelligence or POMI officer. They are the ones who manage platforms and can tell you if you are on one.

Platform based deployments are the wave of the future in Navy Medicine, and you can expect an increased focus on platforms, platforms training, and deployments as a platform.

An individual augmentee or IA deployment is when a request in placed by an operational unit somewhere for an individual person, you are selected to fill that requirement, and you individually augment that unit. When they deploy, you deploy with them as an IA but stay attached administratively to your parent command. In other words, if you are at NMRTC Portsmouth but deploy as an IA, you stay attached to NMRTC Portsmouth the entire time you are deployed. This is the type of deployment most of us have experienced for the majority of our career, but the Navy is trying to get out of the “IA business” and is shifting, as already mentioned, to platforms.

The final type of deployment is a global support assignment (GSA). With this type, you detach from your current command, move or execute a permanent change of station (PCS) to a processing center that becomes your new military command, and then you are given orders to deploy. For example, my last deployment was a GSA. I detached from Navy Personnel Command, my old command, PCS’ed to my new command, the processing center in Norfolk, and then was given deployment orders to go to my unit in GTMO. During this time my parent command was Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center or ECRC, the processing center, and they were primarily responsible for my fitreps and pay issues.

The unique part of a GSA deployment is that pretty much as soon as you report to the processing center you have to contact your Detailer and Specialty Leader to get orders to your next command. The GSA orders usually only last up to a year, and you’ll need orders so you can PCS to your next command when you get back from the deployment. This is the major downside that people complain about with a GSA…the fact that you get PCS orders and have to leave your old command, which people may not want to do. On the other hand, it can be a major benefit. If you are stationed somewhere you don’t want to be, volunteering for a GSA can get you out of there because you’ll PCS away. In addition, because you are volunteering or accepting a deployment, it may give you some leverage with the Detailer or Specialty Leader. For example, you could say, “I’ll deploy on this GSA, but only if you are willing to write me orders to Hawaii as follow-on orders.” That may not always work, but it is worth a try.

Those are the major types of deployments that currently exist, and here are some additional resources:

Active Duty Augmentation FAQs

Navy Individual Augmentee Website

Navy Medicine’s Augmentation Program

Why Me? Why Can’t Someone Else Deploy?

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There have been a number of posts about deployments. We talked about how to max out your TSP, how dwell time works, gear lists, how to get clinical help while deployed, and the different types of deployments. Here is another deployment mystery revealed…

OK Specialty Leader…why do I have to deploy? What about all these other people? Can’t they go?

There are many people whose turn it is to deploy but who cannot deploy. In my experience, the reasons include:

  • They are pregnant or within 1 year post-partum, both of which made you non-deployable.
  • They have LIMDU or medical issues that make them non-deployable.
  • They are in a non-deployable position, like being a CO or working at the White House.
  • They are already with an operational unit, and the operational unit controls if/when they deploy, not the Specialty Leader. For example, I can’t deploy my ER docs who are stationed with the Marines. The Marines decide when they deploy, not me.
  • They have an upcoming resignation/retirement/PCS. You have to have at least 90 days left between the end of a deployment and your end of service or upcoming PCS.
  • They are in GME. Residents and fellows are non-deployable.
  • They have legal issues that keep them from deploying.

In addition to the factors listed above that make someone non-deployable, there are limitations on:

  • Rank – You can only go +/- one rank without a waiver. In other words, if the deployment is for a LCDR you can go down one to a LT or up one to a CDR. You can’t send a CAPT without a waiver, which might not be approved.
  • Security clearances – If people have an expired or soon-to-be expired security clearance, it can be a problem.
  • Manning in the various commands – As the Emergency Medicine Specialty Leader, which doctor I select to deploy often has more to do with the physician manning in the various ERs than whose turn it is.
  • OCONUS vs CONUS – For some deployments people from OCONUS can fill them, for others they can’t.
  • Board exam dates – As the Specialty Leader, I don’t deploy someone if it will mess up their board certification exams.
  • Commands pushing back – After I submit names for a deployment, the officer’s command can RECLAMA, which is an official non-concur with my selection. These are adjudicated by the regions (Navy Medicine East and Navy Medicine West).
  • Other things I’m undoubtedly forgetting.

For example, I just got a request for a deployment, but it overlaps all of the Emergency Medicine oral board exam dates in 2018. In addition, I was told I can’t send anyone from OCONUS. This means I can’t send any new residency graduates or anyone from OCONUS, even if they volunteer. As you can imagine, this limits who I can send and explains why someone might have to deploy for a 2nd or 3rd time when there are others who haven’t deployed.

BOTTOM LINE – When it comes to picking people for deployments, you can see there are many limitations on the process that affect who is eligible to deploy. So I guess you’ll just have to go…

Guest Post – Maximizing TSP Contributions During Deployment

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[Editor’s Note – The process of contributing to the TSP above the $18K annual limit while deployed can be confusing. Thanks to Dr. Levi Kitchen for giving us a first hand summary of how it works.]

By LCDR Levi Kitchen (Levikk81 < at > gmail.com)

Deployment offers a number of financial benefits, including tax free pay which can be directly contributed to your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). However, this can be tricky. The following numbers are based on 2017 limits, which can be seen at this link.

Normally, the elective deferral limit is $18,000 annually. A deferral is defined as the money you elect to remove from your paycheck and contribute to the TSP. This includes either Roth or traditional TSP contributions. When deployed to a combat zone and therefore receiving combat zone tax exempt (CZTE) pay, the deferral limit for the current calendar year increases to $54,000. However, even when receiving CZTE pay, you cannot exceed $18,000 in contributions to your Roth TSP. The remaining $36,000 would have to be contributed to the traditional TSP. Also, in order to take advantage of the higher limit, the money has to come from your CZTE pay, which has to come directly from your paycheck. So, you can only take advantage of the higher deferral limits while receiving CZTE pay, not after.

Although the decision between the Roth and traditional TSP can be complicated (a matrix can be seen here), it’s probably smartest to max contributions to the Roth TSP first as, due to the CZTE, this money will never be taxed by the federal government. Once you reach a total contribution of $18,000 to the Roth TSP, DFAS will automatically stop deducting money from your paycheck. At this point, you need to change your contributions to traditional TSP in MyPay, because you’ve reached the limit of allowable Roth TSP contributions. Automatic deductions to the traditional TSP would again stop once you reach the total limit of $54,000 ($18,000 in Roth TSP and $36,000 in traditional TSP) for the calendar year, or you stop receiving CZTE pay.

As far as I know, once you stop receiving CZTE pay, your annual limit returns to $18,000 regardless of either Roth or traditional contributions. If you’ve already contributed over $18,000 while deployed, then you cannot contribute anymore to your TSP for that calendar year.

For any comments or questions, please email Levi at Levikk81 < at > gmail.com.