Until September 2009 I will be on an individual augmentation (IA) and completely detached from the naval service. I wear the Army combat uniform and carry a 9mm and a ball-point pen as a staff planner for NATO/International Security Assistance Force in Kandahar, Afghanistan. My role is to work with the U.S. coalition forces staff and outside development agencies to improve governance, reconstruction, and development in the southern region. Here's the paradox: this billet has nothing to do with my actual job in the Fleet. I am a surface warfare officer in a war zone where tide tables are useless. At the end of my tour, I will begin department head school, and it's unclear how this wayward assignment for the Army and NATO will affect my career. My story is not unique; many Sailors have gone before me, and many will follow.
Individual Augmentees fill essential roles alongside overtaxed ground troops. The author, an IA in Afghanistan, considers the program's potential for Army and Navy mutual support and the implications for Navy readiness.
By Lieutenant Joshua W. Welle, U.S. Navy