Monday, January 26, 2009

Navy Working Uniform

The new Navy Working Uniform (NWU) has been the talk of the town for quite some time in Navy circles. For as happy as most Sailors are to wave goodbye to the idiotic dungarees and the awful wash Khaki uniform (RIP “Johnny Cash”); all are summarily disgusted with the senselessness of the new blue/gray camouflage pattern. The only reasonable explanation I’ve heard for the color scheme is that it will hide paint splatter better than old working uniforms – which seems like a pretty stupid reason to change a uniform.

The cover article in the January 2009 edition of Navy Times features Sailors’ “outrage” over the NWU rules; specifically, that like current working uniforms it is not authorized for wear anywhere off base. However, current working uniforms are authorized for routine stops (gas, milk, pick up kids, etc.), where as the NWU rules specifically prohibit such stops until such a time as “the Chief’s mess is confident proper standards of wear are understood and practiced,” A time I am certain will never come. It’s a long article, and it isn’t particularly interesting or essential to the main argument of this post, but the point is that everyone hates this uniform.

What has not been pointed out yet, at least not in print, is this “Augmentee Exclusive:” This piece of crap looks EXACTLY like the uniform of the Iraqi National Police!

See the conclusive photographic evidence. No word yet on whether or not the creepy mustache is required; if it is, the Iraqi Police costume will be complete. Maybe we should all quit showering and we can start sleeping outside in disgusting little “man-piles” too. If and how this embarrassing little coincidence escaped the attention of whatever pentagon brain child who gave birth to this bastard uniform, I will not ever know. Perhaps we are showing our solidarity with our Iraqi allies by dressing ourselves exactly like the most corrupt and ineffective arm their security forces – that’s good for morale, I look forward to being harassed mercilessly forever by the other services, even the Air Force’s ridiculous “Tiger Stripes” are less goofy than this abomination.

Now don’t be in a hurry to toss out your old Woodland and Desert Camouflage uniform. That uniform is not being retired, but instead is being re-designated as “organizational clothing.” What does that mean? It means that it is considered clothing issued by Commands in order to do a specific job, same as a flight suit. It would be my guess that most units deployed on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan will choose to wear the old BDUs, but the uniform you wear is at the mercy of the whims of your unit’s commander – so keep your fingers crossed.

What does this mean for deploying IAs? This blog is still about IAs right? Well, if you are going to be embedded in an Army or USMC unit, you can expect to wear the Army ACU or USMC digital cammies – so keep your fingers crossed for that. If you go to a Navy or a joint command, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s up to that unit’s commander, and I have no idea if you will be issued NWUs for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Look on the bright side; if you are forced to wear this smurf suit in country, at least you'll be less likely to be "accidentally" shot by an IP, which is actually a legitimate fear, because as alluded too earlier, these guys are a fucking clown-show. I was very nearly run over by a drunk IP in a Suburban while walking across ASR Jackson one time, but that's a story for another day. Maybe he would have made more of an effort to miss me if I was dressed like his cousin. But then again, maybe not.

The roll-out has begun; it ends December 2010 so get to your local NEX. Don’t forget your Service Dress Khakis and enlisted Khaki uniform while you’re there, and you better get started on that mustache.

Monday, January 19, 2009

IA's Coming Out of the Woodwork

I recieved this one via the "e-mail the Augmentee" function:

Okay, I'll bite. What are "hand receipts" and why are they so important?

I'm a reserve O-5, also in the midwest roughly 1000 miles from the nearest significant Navy base, and have been told to expect recall orders to an IA billet sometime later this year. Your blog does seem to be the best source of info about the process that I can find, so for those of us otherwise being kept in the dark -- thank you. And welcome home. (By the way -- I'm a former NSAWC instructor (helo bubba) and loved your description of hell as an NSAWC debrief. Classic.)

Well Bubba, we'll call you Bubba for the purposes of this discussion: first, I'd like to thank you for your interest in the blog and for calling our attention to the NSAWC is hell post from July. On the other hand, I'd like to kick you in the nuts on behalf of whatever poor Airwing you put through the misery machine in Fallon as a Bubba. So that's a wash.

While all are welcome to send me e-mails - you may find it more fun to leave a comment; it gives all the other idiots a chance to chime in. Also, my loyal fans are dying of boredom since my return to CONUS (at least two original members of the Golden Girls cast are recently deceased), and your comments will give them meaningful occupation.

Before answering your question, I would like to once again express my disgust with the fact that a U.S. Navy Commander considers my blog [quote] "the best source of info about the process." My blog is a complete waste of time for an E-5, let alone an O-5, and if this is the best source of info for deploying IAs, someone needs to get their starfish punched.

Now, the hand reciept is a "reciept" for property that the Army will make you sign for everthing they give you; from your M-4 to a thumb-drive, you will sign about a bazillion of these over the course of your tour. The important part comes when you turn the items back in. At that time, make sure you get the signature of the person you turn your shit in to - and carry that "reciept" in your "hand" until the fucking end of time. Because when the dipshit to whom you turned in your gas mask realizes that he is somehow missing 38 of them - he will forget that you turned in yours and the U.S. Army will try to dock your pay for the $12,000 antique piece of shit that you never even wanted in the first place. Capiche?

Considering that you are an O-5 and a reservist, I would be very surprised if you found yourself embedded in an Army unit. You will probably be relegated to some Joint Thumb in Ass Command in the Green Zone and none of this stuff will apply to you. Tell them about your NSAWC experience and I'm sure someone will handcuff you to a SIPR computor where you can make 130+ slide powerpoint presentations on Soviet era TTP and hide your erection while you view the NSAWC website.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

D+26: Return of the Augmentee

seafarer has left a new comment on your post "D-0: I am leaving Iraq":

”Congrats on leaving! I'm just headed in that direction to do the same job. I was hoping maybe to get some insights… Sadly, the attitude still seems to be ‘good luck. Let me know how that works out for you.’”

I will comment on Seafarer’s message in a moment. It is great to be home, and thanks to everyone for all your warm wishes, care packages, and participation on The Augmentee blog. It has been fun interacting with family and friends, and a few strangers, through this poorly written, un-focused blathering.

Aside from the core members of the Augmentee community, most of whom are family and friends, we have picked up the occasional stranger. Most have one thing in common; they are future Navy IA’s looking for some information on the incredibly stressful evolution on which they are about to embark – Alone! Most of them likely stumbled upon us through a series of Google searches containing the words “Individual Augmentee.” This is pretty interesting; considering that Google searching that phrase doesn’t lead here until page 7! In fact, Google blog-searching doesn’t even find me until page 2! And this is a Google hosted blog.

So, why is that interesting – see the above comment by Seafarer.

It is interesting, because presumably, our pal seafarer waded through 7 pages of useless Google links, before landing here. More interesting, because like many others before him, he found my idiotic rambling helpful enough that he chose to contact me and seek further guidance! Those of you who have been reading this blog should be able to identify the issue here; this blog has been in large part about; drinking, curse words, understanding Hadj, and the incredibly insane antics of a person dubbed Big K. Reading this garbage should not be considered a “useful” pre-deployment exercise; it should be considered a mildly entertaining diversion… at best.

Sadly, the opposite is true – and I continue to get e-mails from shipmates who are just looking for a little help, because they can’t find any help anywhere else. And while I am happy to help you all, it is sad that after nearly five years of Navy IAs, the support program is still a shambles. In fact, I had significant issues with both my FITREP and my travel claim on the way out – because there was no help available. I didn’t even know what the right questions to ask were - and all along the way, there was always someone around just a little too late to help, but just in time to say some snide bullshit like “you didn’t print out your summary letter? You know you’re going to need that…”

“No, DICK! Obviously I did not know that… since the last time I deployed, I deployed with a whole god-damned ADMIN department; and THEY knew that, so I didn’t have to! So, how am I supposed to have magically learned every nuance of Navy administrative burdens while I have been running around with a rifle in a MOTHER-FUCKING ARMY INFANTRY BATTALION FOR NINE FUCKING MONTHS!”

I digress.

Now, if you are reading this, and you happen to be a high ranking (O-5/above) military officer, I know what you are thinking. You are saying “well, what have you done to make it better?” Condescension is dripping from each syllable.

Well, Sir, I am writing this blog, which I know has helped at least 13 people to date. Probably 13 more than the NKO website and the entire ECRC have done combined. So, I guess the question is, what are you doing? I know you have probably never been on an IA (only 3% of sailors have, how many of those do you think are O-5/above?) – and if you have, you probably served in a “Joint” command at the VBC, where you likely had a Navy boss, a nearly all-Navy staff, perhaps with some Air Force and National Guard sprinkled in for good measure. So what have you done?

Perhaps, you commissioned the 35 page end of tour survey – and while I really appreciate the opportunity to tell someone that I am “very dissatisfied” with the NKO website, I just wasn’t in the mood to answer all 200 questions, so I just put it back in the envelope and turned it in blank… so I guess I am part of the problem right?

I suppose I could write a nice, long point paper. But to whom shall I send it? Perhaps to the ECRC, an organization which doesn’t even respond to the e-mails of re-deploying GSAs – personnel for whom they are directly responsible. That doesn’t seem like a good use of my time. Perhaps my Navy umbrella command in theater ought to know my opinion… although, I guess I had my chance to give it to them in my 30 minute “out-brief” that I shared with 13 other people. I’d send it direct to the CNO, or maybe SECNAV, but those guys aren’t taking my calls, so it seems my point paper will go un-read; so, in fact, it will go unwritten.

So, Seafarer, good luck. Let me know how that goes for you.

Don’t pack a lot of crap, don’t buy a bunch of high-speed tactical gear (or you will be dubbed a “gear-queer” by your Army counter parts. Hilarious!), and make sure you have a folder to keep all of your paperwork (ask about “hand receipts” and why they are so important). Get your FITREP/eval and EOT award paperwork in about 3 months before you re-deploy.

Most importantly, just become an Army guy for a little while; don’t try to “fix” them (although they will seem beyond fucked up)... just do things the Army way and don’t be an asshole. It’s just another deployment – no big deal.