09 October 2009

Individual Augmentee Process

Over the last several years, we have made many changes to the Individual Augmentation (IA) process.  We've added resources to each step in the process to better serve affected Sailors and their families.  Our pre-assignment training has been improved as well as our post-assignment follow-up.  We've been able to develop a "one-stop shopping" IA support website and have seen the Navy as a whole step-up to better support Sailor and their families in every phase of the IA experience.

All that said, I know there is more we can do to improve the IA process for both our Sailors and their families.  I'd like to get your thoughts and ideas (from both our AC and RC Sailors) on this subject.  All the best,  JCHjr


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

CDR S, pretty comprehensive post - I've got some research to do and will be back on this particular issue after some "validation and confirmation." All the best, JCHjr

CDR K said...

ADM, I concur with CDR S on this issue.

I was lucky enough to deploy to JCCS-1 and received ACU...however I did not receive the same gear that my Battalion received! While not a seeming crisis, it did lend itself to the unprofessional look when I was the one "loner" in formation/patrol/whatever that was in a different set of stuff.

This stuff stretched from IBA, Cold weather gear, fire retardant gear, "cool guy" stuff (mandatory for my Brigade...of course fully funded by my paycheck!).

One item that I brought up repeatedly to anyone that would listen in the Navy during the entire IA process was for more transparency with the JCCS-1 assignments. I cannot speak of other IAs, however even JCCS-1 has no idea where folks will be heading until they actually show up at Camp Victory! This alone seems like quite a waste...I would have loved to hook up with my unit as they deployed to theater. For units that are already in theater, there is always a Rear Detachment that can not only issue correct gear, they can route personnel directly to the supported unit.

Anyway, thank you for reading my rant.

Desert Sailor said...

Shame on me for not checking in here more frequently, h/t to the 'Phib for re-directing focus!

The good CDR has well beat the uniform issue, I would only add, his more recent experience is matching my 5 yr old data. Nice to see we're tracking along so well...and fully concur with the multi-cam recommendations and especially the implementation plan above. We should do this NOW.

That said, I am impressed with the pre-deployment training although I also believe it is far too NKO centric. Live training by an instructor will stick with our Sailors far longer than any NKO course. Post deployment needs to be looked at as well...we almost invite our system to create a "victim mentality" rather than closely evaluate the individual experience. It could very well be that now we have cycled enough of our own USN medical pers through their own IA experiences that post-dep evals are better covered. My thoughts upon return were 3 days at Ft Bliss by cattle car methodology might leave some to wonder if anyone truly cared or not. And like anyone else, my desire was to get home as soon as possible. Current policy of periodic re-eval and monitoring will hopefully curb most problems.

Since this was (effectively) deployment number 12 and 13 for my family, they really didn't need a lot of "help" or contact. I can understand where some would find the new command assistance as useful but it is not for all.

Again, I have no experience with ECRC or USFF top cover, I coordinated with PERS 46 with the timings for the IA. From an admin side I have to wonder if other IA's service is adequately covered. I went to a joint unit in Iraq where the vast majority were USANG, USMC secondary, and USAF & USN light. Most career affecting admin hurdles required significant reachback to parent command, often not effective however I had good bandwidth and an LDO's patience with "ship's office". My concern lies in the proper documentation of events not always making back to USN admin from EVALS/FITREPS, CAR docs, to pay issues. I can only presume that ECRC has local control within CENTCOM to help our Sailors. That has not always been the case.

Finally, I would add that IA/GSA "priority" or weighting remain specific to SELBRD guidance. I understand the "full person" and best candidate will always be used when selecting the next level. However, targeted language needs to emphasize this breakout should trump career wickets and not be used as an "almost ran" excuse.

While eight ships have taken me on many a wandering ride Cold War ASW/DS/OSW/OEF and including a 9+mo OIF cruise, I will always look back with fondness, pride and humility at the 13 months "on loan" as a life altering high point of a thirty year career. Nothing can replace the lessons learned down range.

CDR X said...

I've done two IAs, one to IZ and one to AF more recently.

I'll echo the uniform comments, although rather than the multicam, I'd recommend we'd just adapt what our SEALs are already using down range, which is a modified version of the USMC digicams. And get rid of the NWUs altogether.

The training ECRC provides is decent, but it needs to be tailored based on the experience the IA brings to the table. One should be able to "place out" of NIACT/Ft Jackson. Many folks with expeditionary experience should be able to get 1-2 days of refresher at the range before deploying rather than 3 weeks painfully slow army-administered "everyone's an E1" course of instruction. This will save money and shorten deployments, making IAs less painful for those who are repeat performers.

To wit, we have Navy folks attached to certain organizations who are on a 4 month home, 4 month deployed rotation that have to go through NIACT once a year. Why should three weeks of their precious home time once a year be taken up with the slow drip training provided at Ft Jax, when all they really need is a day at the range to requal on their weapons and maybe some updated TTP briefs?

Also, why are we still wasting money sending people who "deploy" to Tampa or other non-combat zones to NIACT?

Finally, we are still sending AC folks forward involuntarily (some pulled from sea duty) when there are number of reservists who haven't deployed yet, or are who willing to deploy a 2nd or 3rd time, but unable to get a billet. What is the reason behind that?

FORAC said...

Sir, I spent four years in the Navy at sea. Both times, I volunteered for an IA (to the Horn, and A-stan) and both times I was told "I was too junior" and "I needed to make E-5" before I went IA. PERS-40GS, our administrative officer and our CO all denied my [repeated and respectful] requests to go IA.

There are thousands of Sailors just like me. We want to contribute to what I defiantly continue to call the War on Terror, and we don't mind or even consider the risk of personal danger. Duty comes first. Many view the IA program with scorn and derision, and cringe at the possibility of actually having to contribute in a joint environment where they aren't within the comfortable confines of a ship. I am not one of those people. And I am not alone.

Setting aside the tired officer/enlisted divisions; why, pray tell, was I not allowed to get shot at?

Or build a school with a PRT in Iraq?
Or serve on a C-JSOTF in the Horn?
How about an ETT in Afghanistan?

I deserve an answer to this, Admiral.

The truth is, because I DIDN'T go IA I did not enlist 8 months ago. I enjoyed the Navy and would have re-enlisted if I had been granted the privilege of being shot at. Alas - I was too junior. Luckily, PERS-40's tryannical grip does not extend to the civilian sector, and now - at the young age of 24 - I am a Special Assistant to a DoD Agency director.

The fact remains: the Navy (or at the very least, PERS-40GS and my SSIC) failed this Sailor. I volunteered to go to dangerous places for very little pay and recognition. What's wrong with that?

Skippy-san said...

How to fix the IA process? Stop having IA's!

The Navy should begin backing out of these commitments, in that they are disruptive to the overall flow of the Sailors and their career. In Lieu of deployments make some sense and at least in those there is a unit cohesion.

Finally CDR X's point is very valid. Stop ripping active duty sailors from well deserved shore duty and put more of the burden on the reserve force. The very fact that there are people with more than one IA under their belt on active duty is a bad thing. Its not like the Navy is not busy-when you have Sailors getting extended to eight month deployments ( which is in and of itself and abomination).

I'd also point out that there should be a general re-scrub of the total IA numbers-I'll bet the Army could get by with half of what it is demanding and we sure as heck do not need so many people at Al Udeid and other USAF HQ's..

Bottom line-the whole idea of having to have headquarters staffs function through the IA process is wrong. Then again, the real solution is to leave IRAQ and AF as soon as possible IMHO.

LCDR Echo said...

ADM Harvey,
Thanks for your open forum. As someone who's been activated including two overseas deployments, I'd like to respond to CDR X's comment on the number of reservists who haven't deployed yet. He/she is correct. There are some reservists who haven't gone overseas, but probably no less a percentage of other uniformed services who haven't done so. Reservists, including half of my unit, were there as we went into Iraq. Like the Active Component, reservists have been killed in the line of duty beginning w/ LT Kylan Jones-Huffman in August 2003. Reservists continue to be deployed overseas. In my unit, three have just returned and two were just sent. Maybe VADM Debbink has the data on the percentage who've deployed.

One major consideration is that of training. Most reserve training has nothing to do with preparing one for deployment; those units who do so are few and far between. Put a hold on all units spending any time writing awards for themselves or most reserve-generated admin tasks and use that time for weapons/IED/civil affairs or other training that would make them more valuable and informed for deployments. The same is true for ensuring the chain of command within the reserve supports such training. In some cases that we've experienced, individual reservists who did identify such training were dissuaded while others who volunteered for overseas assignments were discouraged by senior officers who have never deployed because "that's not what the unit does." Granted, those are the rarities, but still unacceptable during a time of war.

The bottom line, is that most reservists understand that in times of war, it's not "one weekend a month." Most are ready to serve and stand alongside the active duty warfighters.

JJ said...


I mostly agree with Skippy.

From the Navy website:
"The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas."

Eight years on, we as an institution should reassert our committment to our stated mission, and get out of the IA business.

As far as shifting the burden to the reserves, that's already happening. As of a month ago, the active component had 5,215 IA/GSAs, while the reserves fielded 5,600 IAs. This isn't a problem of allocating personnel within the Navy; this problem evidences a longstanding lack of political willpower to return to our stated mission.

If whatever we're doing as a Navy does not support our stated mission, we should either (a) stop doing it, or (b) change our stated mission. In addition to preparing for and fighting our nation's wars at sea, after doing it for eight straight years now, we should add to our mission: "...and provide supplemental manpower to our nation's wars on land with naval personnel temporarily reassigned from their trained duties."

If we're unwilling to state that reality in our organizational mission, then we should stop doing IAs.


CDR J said...

Admiral, while most of the focus is on what happens after selection as an IA, I'd like to address IAs from the macro assignment perspective.
My informàtion may be dated, but at one point assignments were passed through the various manpower claimants on a rotating basis. This rotation rarely, if ever, took into account the flavor of officer desired for the IA.
As a result, a specialty could be pulled out of a command where that officer was a one of one or two, while another claimant was a wealth of ten or more officers of that desired specialty. When queried, the Pers answer was "the rotation is fair".
The recommended solution is kind of geeky...but can't we query a database by AQD/NEC and rank, then task the organization with the largest number of said requirement to fill the IA?

CDR F said...

There seems to be a lot of information available for potential IAs, but not as much for potential GSAs. I am considering a GSA for my next tour, and cannot find much information on where my family will PCS to, what my entitlements are, etc. There is an enlisted GSA portal on the BUPERS site, but nothing for the Officer side. Thank you for your time.

Art said...

Any thoughts of adding IRR/VTU, involuntarily, to the IA mix? Thank you

A LCDR said...


I spent a year in Iraq on an IA and was pulled from a shore command. I volunteered for this. My command had enough people with the right skills to fill my vacancy; however, I am surprised that we are still sending IA requirements to the ships.

While the thought may be its only one person, that one body means more to the ship now in the days of "optimal manning".

If the decision hasn't already been made, I recommend stopping IA requirements to the ships.

YNSN said...


I am leaving for an IA 1NOV. My Office is getting clobbered and stuck with lousy manning for their work up cycle and the deployment there-after. If we have these reserve personnel, who train to be Sailors and do the tasks of their respective rate. Why don't we send them to the Ship's to take the place of guys like me? Why are we sending guy's--who probably, never in their wildest dreams thought they would end up in a desert--to a desert, when there a billets aboard a Ship they can fill? Billets I'd imagine they are much more qualified to fill than something in Iraq, AFG, HOA, ect.

I volunteered to fill this IA billet. Do you know what my primary motivation was for doing so, Sir? I was the Sailor that stayed behind last work-up cycle and took on the extra burden of the other Sailor's duties. I didn't want to go through that again. I really think it will be much easier to just do a deployment, than to struggle through a work up cycle and then a deployment under manned to a skeleton-crew.

It just makes sense to me to support the Ship sending Sailors to the desert by sending reservists to fill the gaps left on the Ships. It would make everything easier on everyone, I think.


anon Dr. said...

I'm a physician, did 15 month in Iraq with an Army unit and subsequently dropped my papers. Since physicians really only deploy as IAs (with relatively few in direct operational billets), I recognize that IAs are necessary. However, as much as is possible, keep us on a traditional Navy deployment length with as much warning as possible (more than the 3 weeks notice I received). I know no doctor who will be stay in the Navy after a 15 month deployment but I probably would have been able to talk my wife into letting me stay after 7.

CDR said...


I was mob'd in 2007 and spent 9 mos in Afghan. It was one of the more rewarding experiences in my life. I found that those who applied themselves did great work and were rewarded by interesting experiences. On the other hand there were some over resourced places that did not need to be staffed by Navy folks ripped from civlant or active. I know it is hard to forecast and adapt requirements, but I and my personnel were staffing billets that had only been validated for 1 year or so and were gone less than a year after we left. Everyone wanted to do meaningful work, but did not want to be thrown out there for no purpose. Ditto on uniform issue. Put everyone out in the same outfit so that we have credibility with other services and our Afghan bretheren. They hardly knew what to make of all the different outfits we wore. Finally on pre-deployment training. I depoloyed with Navy folks who had hardly picked up a rifle or sidearm in years and within 3 mos we were expected to be as qualified at small unit combat ops as a career guardsman or soldier. We did it and no one got hurt, but it was not assured.


Matt said...


The familes left behind by RC IAs simply do not have the support that they need. For once (a rarity) CDR Salamander and I agree on something: that family support issues are among the hardest ones to fix. But those are the issues that are causing significant wear and tear on RC marriages when the member deploys leaving a family behind. In my case: my wife is a 5 hour drive from my NOSC and 12 hour drive from the nearest fleet concentration area.

A phone call from the obudsman, CO, or IA coordinator is nice. The USFF IA website is getting better and has good information, as does Military OneSource and some other sites. None of the above is in any way a replacement for being surrounded by neighbors and a community who know what the family is going through and can honestly say "we've got your six." Even if just for a few hours or a couple of days.

My recommendation: get the show on the road. I can't move my family to Norfolk or to the site where I drill while I'm gone. But if we can fund returning warrior workshops at the rate (and locations) where we are holding them, then we can get those same professionals out into fly-over country to bring a road show into the towns were RC familes are dealing (right now -- TODAY) with IA deployments without the support systems available to AC familes in the FCAs. Honestly, we'll probably go to the RWW when I'm back. But by then we will be fixing those things that can be fixed and the healing process will be underway. I would gladly trade my involvement in RWW a year from now if it would mean that my family could attend a similar mid-deployment (or pre-deployment) workshop in our city.

As for the solution of putting more of the burden on the RC: 20% of the Navy's end strength currently takes on 50% of the IA billets. Or, in the words of Admiral Ferguson: "We've had 55,000 individual mobilizations for IA deployments compared to 20,000 deployments on the active-duty side. We could not have fought this conflict without the reserve force." I'm pretty sure the families of LT Jones-Huffman, LCDR Keith Taylor, MC1 Victor Jeffries, CM1 Ross Toles, CDR Joseph Salkeld, and CDR Duane Wolf would wonder what burden it is that the RC is not yet bearing in this fight.

MaxFactor said...


Great opportunity to share. If you ask Sailors their thoughts anonymously and without command influence, they'll tell you!

When IA was concocted, it pointed out the under-resourcing with Army, and my belief is it has fallen unfairly on USN, stripping Sailors from ships & squadrons, and disproportionately on USNR. Having said that, conflicts continue, and it is what is. It's not going away and you need able bodies.

It is tough for USNR personnel with their civilian careers, knowing you're going back to the sandbox, again, or again. How about some relief for the AC & RC and their families and thinking long-term?

My suggestion is to consider using the pool of relatively recent (5-7-10 year?) USN and USNR retirees that may desire to serve. Again. We trained 'em once, and since everyone goes through green training anyway, the logistics (medical/dental/currency/clearances,etc) could be worked out during the training process. Fitting in the uniform is an individual responsibility and would have to be good to go on acceptance.

There has to be a willing pool of patriotic volunteers (enlisted and officers) - with any statutory requirements waived - that would consider doing a tour or two. These are trained professionals in their 40's & 50's that can do the job, as long as it's not humping a ruck daily in the mountains. Maybe some are up for that too. And let's face it, not all IA jobs really fit that profile.

If USNR could earn points, that's always a benefit too.

How? A highly promoted PW-protected website that details actual requirements and an 800 # with creative, responsive people on the other end. Think outside the box with respect to ratings & designators. SSN# will pull up records of service. Make it a 30 day turnaround from data call to orders. Heck, call it "Navy Serve Again". If this exists already, please let us know. My only experience was a USNR/NRPC website a few years back that took some basic info, but it seemed to go into the great bureaucratic abyss. With the economy in the current shape, there are people looking for opportunities too.

Consistent uniforms would be appreciated as was pointed out here already!

Admiral, this would be in the finest traditions of Citizen-Sailors and the Naval Service. Please consider this option for a very trained force.


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

To all - thanks very much for the many responses to my post. I've just gotten through reading all of them and very much appreciate how much remains for us to do to properly prepare and support our IA/GSA Sailors and their families before, during and after the IA assignment.

Several of you have questioned the IA mission - why are we doing it, shouldn't we just stop doing IAs/GSAs and re-focus on our Navy-only missions, etc.

You certainly have the right to your point-of-view, and our job would certainly be easier without the IA mission, but the conflicts we are in demand capabilities we (Navy) have that are not available in sufficient quantities in the other services. To get the job done and have the chance to achieve our goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, Navy had to step forward in response to the need. And so we did.

Now, I'll be the first to admit our IA effort was poorly organized at first and we've been playing catch-up, but I also believe we are getting better at dealing with many of the issues Christina Harris raised in her post.

Matt pointed out the sacrifices made by many of our Reserve Component Sailors as they've carried out a portion of the overall IA mission. In fact, when I was CNP, the large majority of our IAs were from the Navy Reserve. I think the load carried by our Reservists has been significant and I'm very grateful for their service in support of our IA mission.

Max Factor, your response is a great example of why I started this blog - a chance to get some "out-of-the-box" thinking that challenges our commonly held assumptions. I'm going to work the "Navy Serve Again" concept - thanks very much for bringing it to me.

All the best, JCHjr

When Flags Get it Right « The 17th Line of Defense said...

[...] input down the ranks.  The Admiral’s asking honest questions and getting honest answers.  Here he asks for input about the Individual Augmentee process. Over the last several years, we have made [...]

Desert Sailor said...


Further to Max's "Navy Serve Again" idea....this is an active Army/Nat'l Guard policy that has been in place (use) since '01 or '02 (I believe). My former room mate (a retired USANG Major) re-activated to support OIF, I recall he had a one year contract that specified exclusion from promotions but furthered service time for retired pay purposes.

Additionally, the Canadian Forces have a Reserve component whereby the retired member re-joins in the Reserves at former rank and receives both retired pay as well as full pay for reserve duties under an annual contract. Their service in the reserves does not count towards an increase in their retired pay.

Different ways to approach the idea.

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

CDR Fritz, you've given me a great deal of good info I can work with - thanks very much for your post and your service. All the best, JCHjr

Heretic said...

How lean manning saps morale, puts sailors at risk

My apologies admiral if this particular article is a slight tangent from the issue of this topic, but I feel that it is something that should be brought to your (and your staff's) attention, if you are not already aware of the problem.

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Heretic, I'm very familiar with the issue you've forwarded. To be honest, I don't see the situation with overall Fleet manning the same as it is portrayed in the article - there are certainly things we need to do to correct some critical imbalances and I intend to do them, but there is much more that we need to do better in execution of existing policies that will help us a great deal. Much more to follow on that score. All the best, JCHjr

CDR W. Billingslea said...


I am now training for a GSA (PRT) and I have previously served on an IA. I have had Command and had many sailors go on an IA from my Command. I will agree that our process has improved over the years but in my humble opinion we are not serving our Sailors well in two areas (uniforms and pay).

Uniforms: I will agree that CDS Salamander is spot on wrt uniforms and we should execute a simple practical option now (keep TFU out of it .... please! Too long to come up with an impractical solution). I am a proud Sailor but prefer wearing the ACU's because it is comfortable, my entire unit is in it, and I will not stand out like a sore thumb for a sniper when I am outside of the wire. Plus - I have uniform support in theater (not via mail) for all my pieces and parts. I would hate to have to carry a set of DCU's and ACU's to wear (inside the wire uniform and outside) as some are starting to suggest to show Navy pride because with four bags of gear to haul around all ready - it just makes no sense. All of my body armor, packs, foul weather gear, etc. all fit the pattern of the ACU so we look professional in it. Also - while in theater nobody mistook me for Army for they could easily discern my US Navy tape. Let's save the taxpayers some money and go with CDS S. solution or adopt the ACU's. One team .... one fight geared to the mission and not about having a separate operational (field) uniform to just feel good about ourselves. I already feel good about myself and the Navy and having to haul more 'field specific' uniforms around will only lower my morale.

Pay: For my IA my parent command handle those issues and the turn around was days. Now that PSD Norfolk/ECRC is in the loop for my GSA I am looking at 45 days. Insult to injury, we were briefed it will take on average 45 days ... so be prepared. This is unacceptable! For this to be the case for years without a real solution that cuts it down to two weeks max just shows our Sailors how we truly value them. My USAF and Army counterparts who are executing the exact same plan are seeing a turnaround measured in days. If we are at War and Sailors are deployed in a combat zone working seven days a week then we need to have our support shore commands for those Sailors execute effectively or start working 7 days a week as well to get their travel claims resolve in 14 calendar days (not business but calendar). I had one person suggest to me that this is not a big deal and PSD has up to 30 days to process a claim and we should just deal with it. If we accept that as the answer and not fix this problem in short order (less than 90 days) then how can we say we are doing all we can to remove unnecessary stressors for our deploying Warriors.

Sir - you have a ton of Sailors who love the Navy and will put up with crap just to be a part of the team winning this War. They will pay out of their pocket, work the longer hours, and suffer humiliation from being the odd person out wrt home support because they are tough. Let's make a huge difference and please simplify the uniform issue and streamline the pay/entitlement support. If you do that, you will make a huge difference for many sailors.

EM3 Banskota said...

I am an IA sailor who just finished his theater specific training in FT. Lewis and now we are all being sent home. I am currently waiting at Ft. Lewis to get our orders cancelled so we can be sent home to our current command. After several weeks of confusion I cannot understand why our orders were cancelled and we are being sent home to our parent command. Navy spent probably more than 6 thousand dollars or more, (and of course excluding the man power) on each of us to go through this training, and we are now being sent home. And this is definitely not the first time it has happened. I think this is a huge waste of resource in Navy’s part. Plus, most of us volunteered for this mission, and we had to sort out many things before we left, thinking we would be gone for a year. And we were told by ECRC to be on deployment mindset. This had definitely affected our morale and our family’s, for reasons ranging from financial to patriotism. I am not being able to understand why is it so hard for the Navy to send sailors who have already trained on the theater specific training to the theaters. I am sure they are undermanned up there espcially at this time when changes are taking effect. Thanks for taking my comment.

Very Respectfully,
Em3 Banskota