Individual Augmentees – weren’t they supposed to go away? | USNI Blog


4 years ago NAVADMIN 147/07  began the process of transitioning the Individual Augmentee process away from “Welcome Aboard, you’ve been selected to go on an IA” to “OK, you have time in your career path, we can send you on a GWOT Support Assignment”.  Given the pathetic manner in which many commands had handled the IA assignment process (as well as the pathetic manner in which Navy had apportioned IAs to manpower claimants) the GSA was heralded as a good thing that allowed officers and Sailors to plan and removed the burden from commands to provide short notice fills from already decreased ranks.

via Individual Augmentees – weren’t they supposed to go away? | USNI Blog.

A fact little known outside the military is that the Navy has been supplementing the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan for almost a decade now through a program known as Individual Augmentees.

In the early days of the campaigns of the Global War on Terror, as the Army started to build the support and infrastructure for the theaters, they asked the Navy for help filling staffs that they didn’t have warm bodies for. And the Navy pitched in and helped.

But it was a pretty bad deal for the Navy. First, some poor sailor got stuck in a job he never enlisted for. If he wanted to serve on an Army staff, he would have enlisted in the Army. Second, these sailors were often assigned on very short notice, with all the disruptions that entails. Third, they were “fish out of water” in that the routine personnel support structures were geared to providing admin support to Army people, not Navy folks. Problems with pay, and other similar functions were that much harder to resolve. Lastly, these folks assigned not as a regular set of orders, but were taken from a Navy command, leaving that command short handed. Ships and squadrons already facing problems getting a full crew now had to deal with having one of their sailors deployed for a year or more. And they didn’t get a replacement for them, as their sailor was still technically assigned to them, and only “loaned out” for a while.

For the most part, the “IA’s” did their jobs to the best of their ability, and took pride in their contribution to the war. But their frustrations are real.

Further, what was originally intended to be a short term “gap filler” while the Army got itself organized has turned into a crutch the Army relies on far too much. After a decade, there really is no excuse for the Army to continue to filch manpower from the Navy just to fill job slots.

It’s time for the Army to say “Thanks for the help” and end the program.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Individual Augmentees – weren’t they supposed to go away? | USNI Blog

  1. Quartermaster

    Most of the IAs I know about were from the Naval Reserve. A few, CDR Salamander was one, came from the active forces. No matter, though, as I agree with you about ending it. If the Army needs more then they need to get into their own pot and get them. My son, a reserve SSG was activated and attached to an Engineer unit that went over to Iraq with the 82nd AB. It really chapped his tail that he wore an airborne tab with his combat patch and didn’t have jump wings. He tried for one of the reserve jump school slots, but got turned down 4 years running. Combined with the way he was treated while deployed, he refused re-enlistment, as well as the offer of a commission. He’d had enough.

    Perhaps if the Army were to wake up a bit and treat their junior NCOs a bit better, then they might not be needing those IAs from the Navy.

  2. I worked with a lot of IAs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the slots the IAs filled were “joint” assignments. I’m sure in a perfect world, “joint” staffs would always work out of nice places like Tampa or Hawaii. But contingencies required staffing in places like Bagram. While maybe it happened, I don’t recall any IAs being assigned out to grunt roles. Or for what it is worth, assigned to jobs their rates did not prepare them for. Mostly I saw IAs assigned to roles within their specialty areas – paralegals assigned to the legal team, IT rates assigned to the J-6, and so on. In some ways this has “helped” the Army get out of the “green way” shell. Perhaps no better example is with the counter IED efforts.

    And at the same time, several senior Navy officers have indicated their IA time gave them a new appreciation for how the services should, yes SHOULD, operate.

    • Esli

      The only sailors I have seen beyond USN EOD and dog handlers, which came to me from the USMC, was my Electronic Warfare Officer who managed our CREW devices. This support was originally an army-wide program as we simply did not have the skills back in 07-08. We got a lieutenant for a while, and then a chief. By my next trip in ’10 we had grown our own in the form of an army CW2 from my fire support element. No need for the USN, but was glad of the help when we did need it. Sadly, the CPO later was one of four killed in Afghanistan on a blackhawk with a mixed load of NAVSOF and some electronic support guys that went down.

  3. Esli, did you ever work with the JIEDDO team in theater?

    • Esli

      I believe that they were on the other end of some products that I employed in the IED defeat role, but beyond that, no.

  4. One thing that makes me wonder is the medical IAs that the Navy provides. I was a bit startled to learn that very, very few of the docs and techs in Hubby’s dept had ever deployed. And I do mean VERY.

    If that has something to do with the IA crutch, I would be very interested to know.

  5. ls3

    Hows this: i was an engineer in the navy working on propulsion plants. re-enlisted and was forcibly converted to logisical supplyman, and thrown into a unit that does an air force job: Air cargo. Now im being sent out as IA to embedded training team which if you google basically goes and trains the ANA or ANP. Cuz i know a lot about how to train an army. go figure how my name got picked out of the hat.