Port Hueneme, California - Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 conducted Command Post Exercise (CPX) 1 on Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, July 15-19, as part of the battalion's Fleet Response Training Plan.
The exercise challenges NMCB-3's command and control (C2), communications and timely decision making capabilities through real-world scenarios, and ultimately ensures the battalion’s readiness to respond to major combat operations.
“For this exercise, we’re working to ensure the battalion can operate in an austere environment on its own while running off its own equipment,” said U.S. Army Cpt. Jeffrey Ginther, from Carmel, Indiana, NMCB-3’s assistant operations officer. “We can fortify our camp and provide our own power while emphasizing training to enhance our C2 capabilities with our tactical headquarters and tactical operations center training to handle whatever missions may come our way while operating in such an environment without outside support.”
Similar to a carrier strike group's Composite Unit Training Exercise and Joint Task Force Exercise certification process, CPX is one in a series of training events leading to the battalion's final graded Field Training Exercise (FTX), which certifies the battalion can deploy.
The exercise was the first in the series, which allows the battalion to learn from struggles early on to fine-tune their methods and operations. One of the struggles to overcome was central to the exercise: communications.
“We’re transmitting both voice and data.” said Ginther. “With that, our biggest challenges have been in that communications piece of the exercise, but this allowed us to look into our past for those best practices to also train with our alternative communications methods to make us more well-rounded.”
Ginther also expressed the need and emphasis on giving adequate training to Seabees who have not been part of an exercise or deployment before, prompting more experienced Seabees to share their wealth of knowledge.
“As members transfer in and out we lose a lot of great experience gained from previous field training exercises and deployments, so we’re always focusing on training new teams while also finding and learning new best practices from our lessons learned in the past,” said Ginther. “Creating strong Seabee teams is essential to our success.”
Yeoman 1st Class Roseann Fiumaono, from American Samoa, was tasked with gathering accurate reports from the battalion’s line companies and sending them to the battalion’s operational commander in a timely manner.
“This was a good experience for me,” said Fiumaono. “This is my first time being assigned to an expeditionary command and first time standing a watch like this. It was challenging to get everything done quickly, but I knew that if I didn’t have the answers, I could always reach out to others including my watch chief petty officer and watch officer for help to get me on the right track, and that was a good feeling.”
Each company within the battalion was entrusted with an area of responsibility in order to effectively defend the camp and perform their specialties.
Headquarters Company is responsible for maintaining C2, and acts as the central hub of communications and tasking for the battalion. While Seabees in Alfa and Charlie Companies take care of civil engineering support equipment and vertical construction, Bravo Company focuses on camp maintenance and security – these Seabees make up the quick reaction force, which enforces the camp’s defensive perimeter. Finally, Air Detachment, a company that is prepared to mount out in response to major combat operations within 48-hours, was co-located with the battalion for the exercise while training and planning for a real-world response.
NMCB-3 will use the lessons learned during the exercise to formulate creative solutions for following CPX’s as well as the battalion's upcoming FTX.
NMCB-3 is home-ported in Port Hueneme, California. Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the naval service. They provide task-tailored, adaptable and combat-ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support global Navy objectives.