I received a question from a Navy wife.
Hi Andi, I just stumbled on the Spousebuzz Blog today and I think it's great! I'm a Navy wife of 7 years dealing with my husband's selection for an IA. Has there been much discussion in the blogosphere or your blog about other Navy wives dealing with IA's? I've been through a few deployments with my husband, however, those were on ships and this IA business is a whole different world to me. I am just curious as to if there are other Navy wives discussing this IA program and how they are dealing with it. I know the Navy has recently set up a hotline, which is at least something.
Being an Army wife, I wasn't sure what IA was, so I checked with a Navy wife who explained:
IA is "Individual Augmentees." It's where the sailor is mobilized (in the case of reserves) and deployed, or just deployed (in the case of active duty) on his/her own away from his unit and usually given over to another branch. My husband's unit does this all the time since he does intel. Everyone in his unit gets IA orders to go to the Army. So in the case of a reservist, this means a long deployment-- the current IA orders for my husband's unit to Iraq are at least 15 months, because they need to go to "Army school" to learn army things-- like how to shoot a gun, carry a pack, defend themselves, etc.
Earlier this year, Stars & Stripes delved into this topic.
Sailors know the walk, when it's from stem to stern. It's the walking in formation that has some feeling like fish out of water.
With more than 10,000 Navy "individual augmentees" deployed around the world, of which 7,000 are in the U.S. Central Command's combat zones, the Navy is training its sailors like soldiers more than ever before.
"You take a sailor ... who has lived on a 564-foot ship, and all of a sudden, you're integrating him into a ground combat environment. It's night and day for us," said Master Chief Petty Officer Anthony Evangelista, fleet master chief for U.S. Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet.
"Night and day," for sure.
The hotline for questions with respect to IA can be found here. There is a lot of information on the web about IAs, but I'd bet this wife would be more interested in reading about your personal experience with IA. From the spouse perspective, deployment is stressful enough, but add to it the strange fact that your sailor is suddenly a soldier, the unknowns of how another branch of service operates, not knowing anyone in your spouse's new unit and, well, you can imagine the anxiety that the spouse must be dealing with.
Any Navy spouses out there who can offer some advice, or share their IA experience with the wife who is about to deal with this? As she wrote in her email, "this IA business is a whole different world to me."