Monday, April 03, 2006


How the Army is coping with its recruitment shortage

The Army has taken a number of steps to bolster enlistments—lowered the educational requirement, lowered the IQ requirement, stopped eliminating tattooed enlistees unless the drawings are in the middle of the face, and now welcomes the drug addicted so long as they lie. Alas that hasn't been enough. Soldiers on their second or third tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan are beginning to consider other career opportunities. Universal conscription—the Draft—is out of the question. And the pools of Reservists and National Guardsmen are exhausted. What to do?

Ever resourceful, the Army has managed to soldier on. But how? Well, if the Army were a business, we would say they were poaching.1 You see, they're pulling men from the Navy. When a sailor gets put under Army command he's known as an "Individual Augmentee" or "IA."

I hadn't heard of the program until I saw an article by Sandra Jontz in today's Stars & Stripes: "Sailors learn Army basics to prep for downrange deployment." So I did a little investigating and discovered Juliana Gittler's article from March 5. She writes—

The number [of augmentees] “has doubled in the last two months, and it’s only going to get worse,” said Lt. j.g. Michael McPhearson, Commander, Naval Forces Japan regional force protection officer. He fills requests for augmentees in Japan.

Navywide, 2,695 sailors were made augmentees at the start of fiscal 2006 compared to 637 the prior fiscal year, according to the Augmentation Division of the Bureau of Personnel.

The command expects that number to quadruple in the near future, to 10,000 sailors, according to a report from the director of the Navy’s Augmentation Division. And as the Navy runs short of sailors in the States, it will continue to look overseas to fill those positions, McPhearson said.

Augmentees deploy for either six months or a year, plus travel time and five weeks of training.

Pretty sneaky, huh? You join the Navy to see the world, and before you know it you're hip-deep in sand.

There's a comment from a Navy man over at the Randi Rhodes forum—

I personally am in the navy and this is talked about every day. I consider myself safe from IA [individual augmentee] being designated for submarines. But I know of quite a few going either going or are there now. It started out as just the security guys working at Gitmo. But now they need more "bodies" in Iraq and I guess the Navy isn't doing anything important.

The Navy has a website chockful of useful information for the augmentee about to depart for Iraq. The first 3 tips for the soon-to-be deployed are—

  • Get your overseas screening done.
  • Get your Last Will & Testament done or updated. Also for your spouse, if you are married.
  • Get Powers of Attorney (general and durable) as appropriate.

And expect to be welcomed—

Please bring ... a positive attitude: you are handled like a pawn, please just go with the flow. They have been processing people since 9/11 and will let you know about it too.

The Navy hasn't had any problem meeting its recruitment quotas. In January of this year, the Navy was said to be "flush with recruits." If word gets out that the new recruits are just joining the Army (or the Marines) through the backdoor, that may come to a quick end. If you know anyone who's considering joining the Navy, you might want to alert them to the Individual Augmentee program.

April 5, 2006

This is a sad update—

April 4, 2006
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Hospitalman Geovani Padillaaleman, 20, of South Gate, Calif., died Apr. 2 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was permanently assigned to Bethesda Naval Hospital, USNS Comfort Detachment and operationally assigned to Third Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment, 2/28 Brigade Combat Team.

Follow-up post
BC3: Yet another strategem for replacing the missing Army (4/17/07)

Related post
Ground Force of the Day (9/15/06)


1This could lead to more incidents of "recruiter's rage," a syndrome that was documented even before the current war. In 1997 the Boston Globe reported that—

Last year, an Army recruiting sergeant in Florida attacked a Navy recruiting station with a tire iron because a Navy recruiter and he were competing for the same candidate.

In April 1995, 10 Navy recruiters in Chicago were accused of forging high school diplomas for unqualified candidates. That June, an Army sergeant in Colorado was charged with burglary after he lifted ceiling tiles between his office and the Navy recruiting station next door in an effort to get the names of prospective candidates.

This time it could be a Navy recruiter wielding the tire iron. [back]

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