Camp Pendleton, California - Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) forces began participation in the joint Exercise Pacific Blitz 2019 (PacBlitz19), March 12.
PacBlitz19 is an opportunity for U.S. forces to increase maritime readiness to be prepared for real-world crisis situations. The exercise provides realistic, relevant training necessary for effective global crisis response expected of the Navy and Marine Corps.
The Navy expeditionary forces (NEF) of NECC support the Marine Expeditionary Forces and the fleet by establishing theater logistics through the development of advanced naval bases (ANB). These forces are uniquely capable of coming from the sea, and operating effectively in underdeveloped conditions ashore.
During PacBlitz19, the NEF are distributed throughout installations in and off the coast of Southern California, to include Port Hueneme, Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
During the exercise, NECC forces are divided into two task elements; the first task element is led by a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 detachment and provides direct support to 1st Marine Logistics Group in a simulated ANB on Naval Air Station Point Mugu and Port Hueneme. Task element one is composed of Underwater Construction Team 2, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303 (CBMU-303), U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit 312, and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 platoon.
Task element two is led by Coastal Riverine Group 1 (CRG-1) and provides direct support to 1st Marine Logistics Group in a simulated ANB on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It is composed of Coastal Riverine Squadrons 1, 3 and 11, NMCB-5, CBMU-303 and Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1.
“Planning over the phone with Construction Battalion Mobile Unit 303 and Coastal Riverine Group 1, and then getting out here and seeing their full capability, is definitely opening my eyes to the fact that NECC has a few more toys than what the Marine Corps has,” said 1st Lt. Joshua C. Geidel, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, Combat Operations Center watch officer. “Their mission set is definitely applicable for this type of environment and will be relied upon as we continue to go forward.”
Setup for the exercise in Camp Pendleton was not without difficulty as rain showers combined with overly saturated ground proved difficult for heavy equipment and machinery to traverse.
“When we come out and do exercises like this, we don’t always know what to expect when we hit the ground, so one thing I’m very impressed with about my Sailors is their level of ingenuity and flexibility when they’re faced with different problems,” said Chief Engineering Aide Zachary A. Cunningham, CBMU-303 officer in charge. “They start thinking outside the box and find a way to get the job done.”
PacBlitz19 is comprised of Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen who come together as a team to complete the mission.
“We’ve got a lot of different rates and a lot of different ideas but we all have the same goal,” said CBMU-303 Builder 2nd Class Ian R. Masters. “We’re integrating our standard operating procedures and building that cohesion for NECC.”
Masters also added that training in adversity will prepare them for working in any conditions as the adverse weather has forced the different commands to overcome unexpected obstacles just as they might find in a real warfighting environment.
“I think this is a great opportunity because it’ll be more of a learning exercise than it is an exercise of things we know how to do,” said Geidel. “There are definitely going to be mistakes, but any steps backward will ultimately advance us forward in concept development.”
The NEF will be conducting field training exercises which include military base construction and maintenance, expeditionary medical facility construction and maintenance, port security, expeditionary rapid airfield damage repair, port damage assessment and repair, support to undersea warfare, and expeditionary ordnance reload.
“We have a mission laid out in front of us and we exhaust all efforts in getting that done,” said Cunningham. “Seabees have a motto and that’s ‘can do,’ so we don’t say we ‘can’t’ do anything.”
The exercise will conclude March 26.