By MCSN Kenneth Gardner, PHIBCB 2
EO2 Rick Schram, PHIBCB 2, uses a fireplan sketch to explain his pit’s field of fire during PHIBCB 2’s BTX, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 17. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151117-N-FU398-035)
Amphibious Construction Battalion (PHIBCB) 2 completed a Battalion Tactical Exercise (BTX), Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 18. The exercise was a critical portion of the battalion’s homeport training cycle and tested the ability of Seabees and Sailors to defend against enemy attacks in a contingency environment.
“Our Sailors exceeded my expectations throughout all phases of the exercise,” said PHIBCB 2 Command Master Chief Keith Lefebvre. “Last week we had boatswain mates operating watercraft. This week they’re digging fighting positions and employing crew served weapon systems alongside their fellow Seabees without missing a beat!”
To help with the execution of the BTX, Naval Construction Group (NCG) 2, stationed at the Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Mississippi, acted in a supportive role to help oversee PHIBCB’s training.
This was accomplished by working with PHIBCB 2’s training department to set up white and red cell support elements and break down the BTX into a two-phased approach consisting of classroom instruction and tactical field training.
NCC Carl Johnson, Defensive Unit squad leader, PHIBCB 2, radios a message to the Defensive Unit Command Post during the battalion’s BTX, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 17. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151117-N-FU398-033)
“At the PHIBCB BTX, we employed a crawl, walk run method to the field training,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Lutz, training officer, PHIBCB 2. “We started with the crawl phase with some block training in the barracks for the first half of the training to learn the basic building blocks and to make sure we were all on the same page fundamentally.”
The classroom phase consisted of in-depth instruction where PHIBCB 2 ‘Bees sat down with instructors to learn about different situations they could encounter in the field and the proper way to handle each one.
“At first I thought that I wasn’t going to like it, but I actually ended up having a good time,” said Boatswain Mate 1st Class Robert Cooke, craft master under instruction for PHIBCB 2. “Overall I did a lot of patrols and learned stuff about patrols that I didn’t know before.”
Once the classroom instruction phase was complete, the battalion then started preparing for the tactical field environment phase of the BTX. The enabled the battalion to take what they learned in the classroom and apply it to possible hostile scenarios.
EO2 Kenyon Clark, PHIBCB 2, mans the 240B machine gun in a High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) as part of a convoy during the battalion’s BTX, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 16. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151116-N-FU398-030)
“We transitioned from block training out to the field portion of the BTX, where we continued to walk through the initial steps and then straight into a run as we got into the training,” said Lutz. “Overall, it was a very successful event, and I think folks learned a lot from our time at A.P. Hill.”
The red cell consisting of NCG 2 personnel playing the part of aggressors, would randomly present the battalion with possible scenarios to test the PHIBCB 2’s effectiveness in areas such as personnel/ vehicle searches, patrols, communications, mass casualty drills, convoy training, first aid and entry control point (ECP) operations.
The white cell was a conglomeration of NCG 2 personnel, PHIBCB 2 training department personnel and support from Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2’s Gunnery Sergeant Lopez. The main goal was not only to grade the battalion’s effectiveness during the scenarios, but also train, guide and oversee the execution of their training. The success of this training exercise was in large part due to the efforts and support of NCG 2 and NBG 2.
Seabees from PHIBCB 2 use a litter to evacuate a simulated casualty during PHIBCB 2’s BTX, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 17. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151117-N-FU398-060)
Seabees from PHIBCB 2 load a simulated casualty into an ambulance during PHIBCB 2’s BTX, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 17. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151117-N-FU398-063)
The BTX proved to be more than just another training exercise. Through the cooperative efforts between NCG 2 and PHIBCB 2, it also served as a staging ground to build and bolster future relations between the two commands.
Through ongoing training and preparation, PHIBCB 2 is able to combine small craft expertise of the surface Navy with the construction capabilities of the Naval Construction Force to support NBG 2 in amphibious force projection with fully trained, combat-ready forces.
EN3 Joshua Torres uses his entrenching tool to improve his fighting position during PHIBCB 2’s BTX, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 17. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151117-N-FU398-037)
Capt. Jeffrey Hayhurst, commander, NBG 2, receives a fields of fire brief from MR1 Christopher Simser and SNA Raven Foley during PHIBCB 2’s BTX, Fort A.A. Hill, Virginia, Nov. 17. (Photo by EA2 Larry Winer/151117-N-FU398-054)