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Military Deployment Help—TSP Optimization

HI,

I’m an O-5 (Lt Col) in the military, and I’ll be deploying next year for 6 months from April to October to a tax exempt location. I’m trying to figure out the best way for me to maximize my TSP contribution (up to $55k) while minimizing taxes. I know the ROTH TSP is optimal while deployed because it is tax free going in and tax free coming out. However, only $18,500 can be invested in the ROTH TSP in 2018. To have access to the additional $36,500 of TSP space, you must invest tax exempt funds in the Traditional TSP while deployed as I understand it. I have the funds available to contribute the full $55k, but I’m not sure I’ll have the ability to wait until April to start my ROTH contributions, max out the ROTH portion, then switch to the Traditional TSP through DFAS and max out the additional $36,500 in the Traditional portion all by October.
Is it better to wait until my deployment to start my ROTH with tax free contributions, and then do the best I can to max out the remaining $36,500 Traditional space by October?
OrIs it better to start my ROTH in January and max it out before my deployment—thereby losing the tax free contributions—and definitely max out the remaining $36,500 Traditional space while deployed prior to October?

Please help.

I did not find the right solution from the internet.

References:
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=234820'
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Thanks!
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