(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson)

When troops deploy, they're told in advance how long they'll be gone. This gives you the chance to prepare your family, get all your paperwork in order, and so on. But, for some reason, troops always find out at the last possible minute that their deployment is about to get extended.

It's like a terrible Band-Aid that some officer didn't want to pull off.


Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news by telling a formation that their deployment got extended. All hatred will be directed at the commander, but even they aren't doing it for some OER bullet point. It's more-than-likely an order from way higher up.

Pay attention to these signs — they may not want to say it, but you'll see a deployment extension coming from a mile away.

1. USO tours are more frequent

There's an extremely low possibility that the decision to stay was made by a salty commander who is just too gung-ho about the deployment. The decision almost always made at The Pentagon and your commander is getting slapped by the Big Green Weenie.

The Pentagon will also coordinate more and more USO tours to help compensate and shift all that blame back on your commander. If it's not the holiday season and USO tours roll around often, it's because you're about to get slapped, too.

"Don't worry, everyone. These guys are just here to entertain you guys! No ulterior motives from The Pentagon at all!"

(Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

2. The officers haven't started packing yet

It's news that nobody wants to deliver, but everyone in the S3 and some of the other officers heard it in one of the Command & Staff meetings.

Usually, you start packing the connexes up before you leave, but most troops will have their tough boxes on standby — ready to go at a moment's notice. If the S3 PowerPoint Ranger hasn't started packing when the time's drawing near, you know they heard something that they can't share.

It's not like you'll notice, though. Cleaning connexes is half the battle for most lower enlisted troops.

(Photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

3. You get nicer living ammenities at the "end"

Nice bunk beds, bigger tents, and actual living conditions sound amazing to any troop — no matter how grunt they are. It doesn't matter if you've spent the last 11 months living under a HUMVEE, no one wants to spend that last one living under there if it can be helped.

The moment you hear the platoon smart-ass say, "Awesome! ...but aren't we about to leave?" you know what's up.

Or, you'll hear, "Man, the new guys are totally going to love this!" Which leads us to...

(Photo by Sgt. Justin A. Moeller)

4. Your replacement unit hasn't shown yet

Sending out entire units is a logistical nightmare. They're often sent in waves, broken up into four main groups. The first group to go, the ADVON (Advanced Echelon) team, is sent usually a month or so before everyone else to relay any needed info to the unit stateside.

The military has been sending troops to Afghanistan for ages now, so the task of ADVON teams is less and less important — but it still has to happen. If they don't arrive on schedule, well...

ADVON should be coming... Any moment now...

(Photo by Capt. William Brink)

5. Surf and turf (if you're not in the Air Force)

The de facto hint is when your commander wines and dines you. We're not talking about your standard MRE or bagged scrambled eggs, oh no. They're not pulling any punches. We're talkin' steak, lobster, and some ice cream. That's right, you get to live like an Airmen for a meal.

The commander will eat with their troops, show them a good time, and make troops know that the commander is on their side. Remember, you like the commander and would never burn down their office in a fit of rage.

By the way, formation is 30 minutes and the commander has another big green surprise for you guys.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson)