NMCB 11 Proves Ready

(by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael)

GULFPORT, Miss. (November 17, 2011) Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 completed its pre-deployment field exercise (FEX) for a 25th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) certification as the ready-battalion and preparing its Seabees for an upcoming United States Central Command (CENTCOM) deployment.

In a statement by the battalion’s Commanding Officer, CDR Lore Aguayo commented on the feedback she received from her Seabees during FEX.  “… the overarching message was that our field exercise greatly increased their tactical knowledge and enhanced their level of confidence in executing our mission in Afghanistan safely and effectively.”

Seabees were put through numerous scenarios including chemical, biological, radiological (CBR) attacks, sniper fire, indirect fire, mobs of angry local nationals, and mass casualties.  They also received training on some of the history, social customs, and languages they will encounter while deployed.

“I learned what my mind and body was capable of enduring in a given environment,” stated Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Sean P. Philby.  “I think the camaraderie and team building are good preparation for any combat deployment.”

Philby was one of a few people who endured and were treated for a bite from a Black Widow spider.  In addition to contending with the scenarios being conducted, Seabees had to pay close attention to their surroundings for the potentially deadly spiders.

“There is no job too big or too small, for anyone. In order for anything to be successful, we all need each other. We’ll need to depend on each other in Afghanistan, as well,” said LTJG John Kaiser who was part of the battalion’s Charlie Det.  Charlie Det was tasked with constructing a timber tower and a South West Asia (SWA) hut during the exercise.  Also assigned to Charlie Det was Utilitiesman 2nd Class Joseph L. Tabor.  “I learned the importance of communications and how it applies to Afghanistan because there will be a strong need for precise communications between each inner-battalion Det site, as well as with outside commands and convoy operations,” stated Tabor.

“I learned how to plan, execute, and prioritize patrols,” said Builder Constructionman Joseph D. Petkoff of Air Det.  “They are critical when gathering intel.”  Air Det deployed ahead of the battalion to sweep the area and set a defensive perimeter so Mainbody could come in and complete the camp setup.  Air Det was also tasked with constructing a SWA hut and a bunker.  Given the conditions, some of the tasks may have seemed daunting, but according to Chief Construction Electrician Francisco J. Martinez, “when morale is high, even the impossible can happen.”  Air Det must have found ways to keep morale high because they exceeded all of their goals.

Construction Electrician 2nd Class Johnny Hawkins has experienced multiple FEXs prior to this one that he doesn’t remember fondly, but of this FEX, Hawkins exclaimed “I can’t believe it, but I have so many positive things to say about it!”  As a member of Bridge Det, Hawkins’ team was tasked with constructing a bridge.  He believes that the preparation, training, and motivation for this FEX were superior to any of his past experiences.  “This is, without a doubt, the best team I’ve been a part of since my days of playing football.  I just can’t say enough about how motivated, dedicated, and focused all the junior troops were in Bridge Det; especially Constructionman Demoss (BUCA Dakota S. Demoss) whose contribution to the team effort was invaluable,” asserted Hawkins.

From all accounts, the battalion performed extremely well during the evaluation phase of FEX.  The performance resulted in a shorter than expected FEX with the battalion returning home to Gulfport after roughly two weeks in the field.  During one scenario, aggressors conducted a concerted attack intent on killing the battalion’s Commanding Officer.  The Seabees fought them off rendering the aggressors unsuccessful; a feat not achieved by other battalions.  “I could not be prouder of every single Seabee in NMCB ELEVEN and their extraordinary performance in the field,” stated Aguayo.

About jcarmichael