Attrition: American Sailors Volunteer for Iraq Duty

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November 5, 2006: In the last five years, 46,000 U.S. Navy sailors have served as "IAs," (individual augmentees) in Iraq and Afghanistan, to assist the U.S. Army. At any time, 8-9,000 sailors are doing IA work, on six, or, more usually, twelve month assignments. Most of the IAs are volunteers, and possess skills similar to those performed by soldiers. The IAs get a week, or more, of training at an army base, to familiarize them with army procedures, weapons, and the specific dangers they will encounter. Most of the sailors never get out into combat, but concentrate on support tasks. This ranges from maintenance to handling logistics. Many navy EOD (Explosives Ordnance Disposal) technicians serve in the danger zones, taking care of roadside bombs, and other dangerous devices. But mostly, the sailors free up army personnel for things like base security. The IAs also help army morale, as they make it possible to not send key technical people overseas so much. The sailors volunteer because they want to get involved. As the old saying goes, "it's the only war we've got," and this one does not involve a lot of naval action.

 


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