By Detachment Woodchuck NMCB 11 PAO

GULFPORT, Miss. – 59 Seabees of detachment (Det.) Woodchuck assigned to Naval Mobile Construction (NMCB) 11 set up camp and preformed beyond their own expectations, Feb. 15-27.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? This was the most frequently asked question the NMCB 11 Heavy Timber Construction detachment. The exact answer to that question is unknown, but it is known that Det Woodchuck can lay 1000 meters of quad strand concertina wire in 2 hours, set 400 meters of Hesco in an hour, set up an entire camp in 4 hours, construct  a crow’s nest in 15 hours, and all while defending  their impenetrable defensive lines.


This detachment was hastily thrown together just a few weeks prior to leaving for the field; consisting of mostly third class petty officers, eighty percent of which were about to embark on their first FTX.

“This combination of inexperience and lack of unit training would typically be cause for worry, however there was an overwhelming sense of calm amongst the group that only the small unit leaders of the Det can be credited with providing. These individuals were the backbone of the operation, and carried the team throughout the exercise,” said Builder 2nd Class Robert Bergeron, 3rd Squad Leader.

Most organizations go through what is known as Tuckman’s group development cycle which consists of forming, storming, norming, and performing. Det Woodchuck clearly had not heard of this cycle before because the small unit leaders took the Det from forming straight to performing in a matter of days as they prepared to travel to Camp Shelby.

The Det arrived at Camp Shelby a torrential downpour that not only soaked all of their gear, but also knocked over nearly every set of 8’ Hescos at the FOB they were occupying. Instead of simply occupying the FOB, Det Woodchuck tasked with re-establishing the Hesco border before anything else could be done.  They assigned a third class petty officer to take charge of several fire teams to accomplish this task.  The tasking was complete in no time and the results were near perfect.  The Det did not think anything of this feat until later when a more senior individual told our Det that a much larger working party had spent an entire day struggling to replicate our results in a different area.  This set the tone for the troops for the rest of the exercise. These accomplishments stimulated the small unit leaders and fed their motivation to a level.

Bergeron added, “Being successful in small unit leadership is gaining and keeping the respect of your subordinates, working with them to achieve the overall goals for the mission, rather than sitting back dictating what needs to be done.”

NMCB 11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response, and humanitarian assistance. The battalion’s homeport is in Gulfport, Miss. The Naval Construction Force is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy. They offer deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support.

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