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Fleet Forces Admiral Discusses IAs

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071127-07
Release Date: 11/27/2007 2:17:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Stefanie Holzeisen-Mullen, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, recently recorded a podcast to talk to Sailors about the Navy's individual augmentee (IA) process.

Not long ago, Greenert traveled to the Navy Individual Augmentee Combat Training Unit in Fort Jackson, S.C., to get a firsthand look at the training facility and speak to Sailors preparing for an IA assignment.

"That was a great trip ... it totally changed my impression and my ideas on our individual augmentee program," said Greenert, noting specifically the intensity of the skills being taught and the confidence and character of the Sailors he met.

With more than 10,000 IAs serving in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, including active-duty and reserve components, Greenert was quick to note that this type of duty is quickly becoming the norm for career Sailors and the Navy is working overtime to ensure the necessary training and support systems are in place. The evolution of IA training is part of the Navy's shift to a more expeditionary force with the majority receiving orders to duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This is not a short-term process [IA assignments]," said Greenert. "We have 10,000 now and are training to turn over that amount."

In October 2006 United States Joint Forces Command assumed responsibility of the IA training program at Fort Jackson and have worked in concert with the Army to ensure the best possible training program is in place to prepare Sailors for success in their IA assignment.

The course was based on theater requirements for all service members. The program is designed to teach essential skills to individuals assigned to Army units. The course includes training in basic marksmanship, combat first aid, land navigation, urban operations and an introduction to Army culture. Perhaps most important is training in convoy and counter-improvised explosive device operations.

"I feel very good about the people who are there," said Greenert. "They are very confident when they are done and they have good reason to. I feel very good about the training."

Greenert has also set his sights on educating the Navy family on this new type of deployment by making sure they have access to current information and resources to ensure success on the home front.

"We are doing a lot but we need to get better at what we're doing." Greenert admitted. "The Navy is good at caring for a unit or family of a unit when that unit deploys. But what we're talking about now are individuals within a unit and we need to take that same approach.

"The Navy ombudsman program is strengthened and ready to deal with this need."

Greenert pointed to one Sailor he met while at Fort Jackson who praised the dedication and tenacity of his unit's ombudsman, crediting them with preparing him for deployment in just one week vice the traditional four to five weeks.

"It's this caring for the individual," Greenert added. "The unit looking out for the individual. That's the mindset we have to have."

In the past, IA deployment information was often scattered and difficult to find. Recognizing this, the Navy stood up Expeditionary Combat Readiness Command (ECRC) in October 2006. ECRC is designed to provide oversight and ensure effective processing, equipping, training, certification and deployment. In addition to getting Sailors prepared, ECRC provides reach-back, redeployment and proactive family support to the families of IAs, ad-hoc individuals and provisional units deploying for non-traditional expeditionary missions in support of the global war on terrorism.

ECRC is designed to be a center for IAs and their families to lean on for resources, support and guidance. The IA handbook, available on the ECRC Web site, is one publication Greenert said many of those he spoke with at Fort Jackson pointed to repeatedly as a key reason why they felt prepared.

Fleet and family support centers, Navy Personnel Command and other Navy commands and organizations are continually developing and fine-tuning the network of resources to get the knowledge to those who need it.

Quick to laud the volume of assistance and wealth of knowledge available to better prepare a Sailor to serve in an IA assignment, Greenert had a simple suggestion for those who really want to know what to expect and how to prepare - go straight to the source.

"Talk to somebody who has been there. You'll get the insight, you'll help get rid of some of the anxieties that build up. Have faith that this training process will prepare you well."

To listen to the podcast interview with Greenert on the Navy's IA training program log on to www.cffc.navy.mil.



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