Logistics: Sailors as Soldiers in the Sand


March 10, 2006: Some of the unsung heroes in Iraq have been American sailors serving with the U.S. Army as Individual Augmentees. Several thousand have volunteered for this duty, which involves doing 6-12 months work in a key supply, transportation or maintenance area they are already expert at. The Augmentee's get some training at a stateside army base first, to get up to speed on army-specific procedures, terminology and the like. The sailors (enlisted and officer) are then issued army combat gear and sent over to the "sand box." Many never get out of Kuwait, where a lot of the logistical effort is still based, but most end up in Iraq, and some have been shot at.

The navy has a lot of logistical specialists, many of whom serve aboard ship. One of the come-on's to get them to become Augmentees is that the living conditions in Iraq are superior to what is found on most ships. Well, at least the living quarters are larger. But another attraction is that it's "the only war we've got." For military professionals, it's common to pass through an entire career without ever being involved in an armed conflict. So for many sailors, Iraq is an opportunity to answer that age old question; "can I handle it."


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