FEX takes center stage for NMCB 11

(by Mass Communication Specialst 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael)

 Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 deployed to Camp Shelby this week to begin its field exercise (FEX). 

FEX consists of scenario based training and assessment to certify the battalion for its next deployment.  Seabees will demonstrate knowledge and skills by satisfactorily completing predefined tasks, and appropriately reacting to drills conducted by 20th Seabee Readiness Group (SRG).

“This will prepare our battalion for tactical operations in command and control and certify us by the regiment (25th Naval Construction Regiment) for the upcoming CENTCOM (United States Central Command) deployment,” said CDR Lore Aguayo, Commanding Officer, NMCB 11.  “I am proud of all our Seabees, and I am excited to go out to the field and see the unit cohesion we’ve built.”

The battalion must build up their self-contained operations at Camp Shelby with everything from command posts and a combat operations center to a galley, and shower facilities.  Operations are 24 hours per day including fighting positions and watch-stations.

“FEX is about safety, accountability and planning.  All three of those things must come together for FEX to be a success,” said Chief Builder William C. Maness, Command Safety Officer.  Safety is one of the many items that will be assessed for the overall grade and certification.  “FEX will push the battalion to the limit so we will be prepared for any future situations,” added Maness.

Because battalion personnel are comprised of various levels of experience, newer Seabees will rely on the more experienced for help.  One of a number of Seabees who will be experiencing their first FEX is Intelligence Specialist Seaman Apprentice Layne W. Duras who recently checked into NMCB 11, his first duty station since joining the Navy.  “I’ve been able to rely on my shipmates to get prepared for FEX.  I’ve asked a lot of questions and they are there to answer them.  They’ve been extremely proactive in preparing me for this,” stated Duras.  “I’m looking forward to it, and I think that after FEX the battalion will have increased situational awareness and morale.”

One theme that seems to permeate the battalion heading into this FEX is a motivated, positive attitude.  “I see FEX as a long tactical camping trip,” claimed Yoeman 3rd Class Thomas B. Miller.  “I’m going to do my best to keep my morale and the morale of others high.”

“I think we’re prepared to put into play what we’ve been practicing,” said Builder 2nd Class Vasti A. Plaza-Valez who is participating in her second battalion FEX.”  “This will build trust and confidence in the abilities of you and your shipmates going into another deployment,” she added.

This FEX is slated to take roughly 3 weeks, but that length of time depends on how well the battalion performs.  Any evolutions that produce unsatisfactory results must be repeated.  The battalion has already received positive comments from 20-SRG regarding its preparation, and CDR Aguayo is confident that her battalion will succeed.  “Based on the last month and a half of the companies’ unit level training and the battalion’s command level awareness I believe we are fully prepared for a successful FEX.”

About jcarmichael