Welcome to the Army
by Megan Field (USA)
A C-130 aircraft looks a lot larger from the outside than it really is on the inside. I learned this the hard way as I boarded the aircraft in San Diego, along with 75 other United States Navy Sailors. We sat on seats made of nylon webbing with the back of the seat rigged at a right angle to the bottom of the seat. I was in physical contact with the people sitting to the right and left of me and my legs were wedged between the legs of the person sitting across from me. We put in ear plugs as the pilot started the engine and landed two hours and forty-five minutes later in Texas.
I am a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy. Three months ago, I received Individual Augmentation orders to serve on the ground in Iraq with the Army.
Individual Augmentation is a process in which personnel can be borrowed from their home commands to serve elsewhere temporarily. With military demands being so high in Iraq, it is becoming more and more common to see Sailors serving in positions normally filled by Soldiers or Marines.
There are 140 other Navy service members assigned to my Individual Augmentation mission. We are stationed at commands all across the county and serve in a spectrum of Navy jobs. We came together one month ago to complete administrative processing and begin our training with the Army. After the training is over, we will report to Iraq to commence our deployment.
Counting my training during ROTC in college, I have had almost eight years of ship-specific training and experience. My naval career has taken me around the world and given me the opportunity to serve in a leadership position from the day of my commissioning in 2003. I served initially on an Amphibious Command Ship stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. My next assignment was in San Diego, California, where I served as the Navigator on a Destroyer.
The life of a junior Surface Warfare Officer is diverse and demanding. We fill two roles on our ships: Division Officer and Watchstander. In order to be successful, we must have a working knowledge of every aspect of surface warfare. I went through intensive training during my first year in the Navy to earn my Surface Warfare Officer qualification. Once I achieved this, I went on to earn more advanced qualifications. I now share my knowledge with others as I currently serve as an Instructor at the International Surface Warfare Officer School in Rhode Island.
I decided to pursue a career in the Navy just before I graduated from Pullman High School in 1999. At that point, I never could have imagined that I would end up serving in Iraq with the Army. Given my background as a sea-going surface warfare specialist, the prospect of my new temporary job is intimidating.
However, my group of 140 Sailors, beached in the desert of Texas, has several months to learn the ways of the Army. The first phase of training is titled “Basic Combat Skills.” Let the transformation begin!