Saturday, August 04, 2007

Navy: 5 admirals pulling IA duty

Above: An Individual Augmentee Training Course at the McCrady Training Center in South Carolina. Sometimes known as 'sand sailors', Individual Augmentees (IAs) are basically Navy personnel who either volunteer or are involuntarily transferred to work with the Army in combat duty. There are approximately 13,000 sailors serving in IA billets, split between active duty and reserve components. The majority of IAs serve in Iraq or Afghanistan. In order to accomplish the transition from sailor to soldier, they go through a shortened version of combat basic training and learn Army tactics and doctrines, and train on the various weapons they will use in theater as well as patrol techniques, land navigation, and urban assault.

Before arriving in Iraq last year, Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a naval aviator, had never conducted a press conference. But during his nine months in Baghdad, press conferences are a regular part of Fox’s duties as communications chief for the strategic effects component of Multi-National Forces-Iraq.

Fox is one of a handful of Navy flag officers around the globe serving as an individual augmentee, filling billets normally filled by Army officers or soldiers. The admiral is a high-ranking example of the sea service’s expanded mission in support of the war on terrorism.

The Navy estimates about 13,000 sailors and naval officers are serving as IAs — about 5,000 in Iraq.

Another admiral, Chief of Information Rear Adm. Greg Smith, is spending a year in country to support Multi-National Forces-Iraq commander Army Gen. David Petraeus and his strategic communications staff.

As of Friday, the Navy said there were five admirals serving as IAs.

Read the rest at Navy Times

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