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.

The program was set up in three phases…but not much has been publicized since NAVADMIN 171/10 changed the name from “Global War On Terror Support Assignment” to “Overseas Contingency Operations Support Assignments”. The promise to do away with short notice tasking for long established requirements remained – but has not been realized.

Since the IA (like “NOB” and the “PRT” a name change can only go so far in Navy culture) has become such a ubiquitous part of the Navy the level of acceptance has gone up, the level of open disgruntlement has gone down and the visible level of Flag involvement in the program has disappeared.

Which must be how requirements like this are allowed to pass through five separate 4-star commands to get approved.

 LINE NUMBER: NE-4387-0001/ PLATOON LEADER / O2-O3 / UNRESTRICED LINE OFFICER, WARFARE QUALIFIED/ with a current Secret clearance and a PRD of at least 12/2012. Report date 10/3/2011 for 270 days in theater (estimated return date 9/30/2012). Duty location Afghanistan. Position Description: Postal Platoon Leader tasked to provide customer service and postal finance support for up to 6,000 personnel consistent with theater mail policies and priorities. Services include money orders, postage stamp sales, special services and package mailing.

Seriously? IAs support an Army that three years ago hadn’t deployed a third of it’s Soldiers and two years ago had learned to massage those numbers so that “being in a unit with deployment orders” counted the same as being deployed which still left 25,000 soldiers who had never deployed. And within that 25,000 (because that’s the smaller number) the Army is unable to find someone qualified to handle the mail? And needs a warfare qualified Navy officer to do it?


I understand that the Navy has a cultural bias against saying No to missions and tasking. But. A warfare qualified postal officer?


Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Strategy, Tactics

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  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III


    One of the JOs from my Ship filled that exact (maybe not literally, but the same job descripition at BAF — there aren’t that many Postal Platoons in BAF) billet.
    My IA was so painful because of the lack of anything to do I had as an IA and the amount of things my Shipmates had to do back aboard SAN ANTONIO while I was gone.
    I did awards, and only awards for the Army. I did close to 3,000 awards for them, in accordance with their system. Their system being significantly different than the Navy. In short, they needed me because of the very liberal standards by which the Army decorates their Soldiers, and the larger amount of beurocracy that it also entails.
    Two things have come about because of the IA program.
    1 – The Army has not had to improve itself in certain areas, like Administration. Their system has been allowed to stay bloated and inefficent because of the Navy’s augmentation.
    2 – The Navy has retained a higher end-strength than we probably would have with out the IA program. One piece of scuttlebutt I continually hear is that the IA program was a play to prove the need for the number of Sailors we have. Without it and in light of the on-going demands the Army and USMC have in land wars, the Navy would have seen a significant decrease in personnel numbers. Though, I’ve never heard of this officially, it rings true in my ears.
    The IA’s need to stop. I am glad I did an IA tour as my time there has paid huge dividends for me. Though, not directly. Had I simply returned to my ship and PCS’d to an ‘average’ duty station for my shore tour, I don’t think it would have mattered much that I had gone IA. There are benefits in that the E6 exam I just took counted for two multiples (I was absolved from one exam while in AFG), and I earned two rows of ribbons (including an Army and Joint Commendation Medal). But, I don’t think that if we get into some shooting war at sea during my next tour, that I will be more effective because of my time in AFG. Nor am I sure that I have any other improved abilities because of my tour in AFG/time with the Army. I speak ‘joint’ very well though.

    The biggest lesson learned I had from seeing how the Army got to operate because of Sailors being downrange — they got more downtime. I was in AFG longer than the unit I was assigned to the longest. They were only BOG for about 9 or 10 months, my orders had me there for 12. Soldiers I was with had a few years between their deployments. I had 5 months.
    The Army is really thin in certain areas like Infantry and very specialized combat MOSes. But, really fat in others like Administration.
    The demands placed on the Army today are not what they were a few years ago. The Army has as many challenges as they do because of their choices, not the demands placed upon it by the Nation. Sailors are being stuck in the middle.
    Oh, by the way. the new dwell time for Soldiers is going to 2 months for every 1 month deployed. The Navy is 1 for 1. If there was ever a time to end the IA program, it is when they actually implement that dwell time.

    Lastly, whenever the Army would get pissed at me for not doing something right. I’d ask them when they were going to come augment the Navy when we need help with a tiger team. The fact is, they wont, and they couldn’t. Life at Sea is a HELL OF A LOT harder than life in Garrison, as a fobbit, helping the Army write awards is.

  • GIMP

    The IA process appears to run about as smoothly as the Pentagon plans meetings. Everything is an emergency with a not greater than 2 week planning cycle. Seriously, how can it be. We’ve been occupying Afghanistan for a decade. How can we not know what needs to be done where and when well ahead of time?

    At least we’re making sure our IAs do what’s important. They’re getting their DADT training complete.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    The Navy for its part does a good job of taking care of Sailors downrange. Nothings perfect. But, I really don’t have any gripes about NAVCENT from my tour out there, they do the Lord’s work in looking after Sailors.


    I can almost see the point of a warfare qualified officer for this job. Not because the mission requires the warfare qualification but because an O-2/O-3 that is not warfare qualified will be severely career handicapped by going on a 12 month IA instead of getting qualified. Also, since there is great possibility for fraud here (look at the job description), you don’t want a proven non-performer in the slot. But Unristricted Line? Why not all the staff officers as well, like, I don’t know, SUPPOs? Why unrestricted line?

  • So…when the naval war with a near peer goes warm/hot I guess we’ll be seeing Army guys filling in for those Sailors lost or wounded?
    Yeah, I didn’t think so either – just like they helped out when our deployment times skyrocketed in the 80’s and they sat in garrison.
    w/r, SJS

  • Army guys can mess crank and run the laundry-freeing up qualified plane captains to be in the line shack.

  • And its not as if the Navy is not doing anything-I read recently that the Navy is losing one Aegis qualifed FC a week thanks to its deployment schedule for DDG’s ( especially BMD DDG’s). There is plenty to do inside the Navy lifelines.