How to Survive a Guest OC/T Rotation

Photo by MAJ Rob Pough

You must be here because you were tagged to OC at NTC. My heart weeps for you. NTC is a giant disaster of soul-sucking misery that can only be remedied by proper preparation in the form of sweet sweet gear. You will need to cover the basics: Food, Water, Shelter, and Entertainment.


Get a Jetboil. Yes, it’s expensive for a glorified boiler. Yes, it’s worth every penny when you realize the versatility of cooking food as fast as that thing heats up water. I had oatmeal every morning followed by a hot cup of joe all before the attacks I had to pretend I cared about. That was paradise in a military wasteland. It helped that I was there during cold nights; if you’re on a summer rotation, sucks. Make sure to opt for the optional French press and a course ground Starbucks medium roast. It’s damn fine field coffee.

Get a HotSpot Notebook Portable Charcoal Grill by Fire Sense. They sell them at the PX there but good luck getting one while it’s in stock. This is by far the easiest way to grill out there. You’ll be so excited to use your fold-up grill that you’ll break the ice on night one and draw in friends from around the OC camp. This can double in the entertainment category.


You’ll have plenty and they provide a cooler. You need to get it from cooler to mouth and sucking down the cooler spout gets old, quick. Nalgene does this well since you’ll want something ruggedized.


Ignore everything the haters say, get yourself a tent. You will sleep comfortably, out of the wind, have privacy, and block out the light from that glow stick they make you crack to avoid being run over by strykers. I highly recommend the Kamp-Rite Oversize Tent Cot so that you can sit up inside it. If you get the right HMMWV, it will fit right in the back and collapse/erect in seconds. If you don’t, well, you’ll sleep on the ground and risk death by stryker tire, but you’ll die comfortably. Yes. it’s a tad pricey, but you’re making around $1,500 in TDY, splurge a bit.  This was by far the single best investment I made.

Photo by MAJ Rob Pough

Do you know what blows about NTC?  Wind.  Pun intended.  The wind will absolutely blow when you don’t want it to (when it’s cold or you’re trying to sleep), and never blow when you do (when it’s hot).  You will need effortless attachment devices to secure things like your tent, your sun shades, your equipment to the HMMWV since even the speed limit down route Goldstone will eject everything you own out the back.  Bungee cords are a great investment, pick some up here.


You need internet and AT&T is your only source. If you don’t have an AT&T phone, you will need an AT&T hotspot. This allows you to be a walking WIFI router and then get a little cheeky with your networks broadcast name. Prison on Planet Bullshit is mine, no you can’t have my password because you’ll soon find out streaming sucks down an incredible amount of data. Get the biggest plan that lets you buy more gigs the cheapest, you’ll thank me later.

Do you know what HMMWVs don’t have? Radios. Get a Bluetooth speaker, preferably one that doubles as a phone charger. You can never have too many phone backup batteries. You also want it ruggedized too. I was really impressed with the Braven BRV-1. You may not think you want music now but tooling through the desert in a HMMWV is always more fun with some Fortunate Son blasting from your windowless ride.

Do you know what else HMMWVs don’t have? Power outlets. Without charging capabilities your entertainment plan has a solid 9 hours of run time. That’s 9 hours out of 336 in the box. You will need an AC/DC adapter with alligator clamps to easily tie into ONE (1) of the HMMWV batteries. Don’t tie into both, that’s 24 volts of electronic-destroying-set-your-HMMWV-on-fire-Ricky-Bobby devastation. I recommend 400 watts and, once again, ruggedized.

There you have it. Everything else will absolutely suck, but at least you’ll suck comfortably and entertained. Best of luck out there, ponchos make great sun shades.