By MCCS(SCW/SW) Jeffrey Pierce, 22 NCR Public Affairs Officer
(Left to right) U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, speaks with Brig. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, commanding general, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, during a rehearsal of concepts drill as part of Bold Alligator 2016 in Norfolk, Virginia, Aug. 13, 2016. BA16 focused on improving Navy-Marine Corps amphibious core competencies along with coalition, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Allied and partner nations as an investment in the current and future readiness of naval forces. (Photo by Cpl. Joey Mendez, II Marine Expeditionary Force/160825-M-BW898-026)
The 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) participated in Exercise Bold Alligator 2016 (BA16), which took place Aug. 15-26, 2016.
BA16 was a simulated, scenario-based exercise where U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces partnered with a host nation facing aggression from a neighboring power. 22 NCR’s mission was to execute command and control (C2) of Navy Construction Force (NCF) units executing operations on the fictitious island of Amethyst and designated operational areas within the Combined Force Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC) area of operations.
It’s been proven that past experience can play a huge role in present situations. 22 NCR had that opportunity nine month ago and used it for this exercise.
The regiment successfully completed their Navy Integrated Exercise (NIEX) in November 2015. The Expeditionary Warfare Development Center (EXWDC) from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story, Virginia, ran and evaluated the exercise. They designed scenarios to test 22 NCR’s ability to effectively command and control multiple expeditionary force units working together as a task force.
According to Capt. Lori Aguayo, commodore, 22 NCR, while C2 is essential to both exercises, BA16 was different from NIEX as it provided a training scenario that closely resembles what 22 NCR would be called upon to do in the real world.
“During NIEX, my priority was to exercise C2 and interoperability with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) units,” Aguayo said. “With BA16, my priority was to exercise C2 of Seabees in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).”
By the end of NIEX, 22 NCR had a core group of experienced personnel ready to tackle the challenges of BA16. However, a different approach was taken for BA16.
“We decided we wanted to train new members, including 22 NCR reserve personnel, who were either new to the command or had not participated in our NIEX exercise,” Aguayo said. “I was very pleased with their performance. Every day they took lessons learned and instituted them into their daily processes. The synergy on the watch floor was palpable as they communicated effectively with one another and meshed into a cohesive group all moving in the same direction.”
22 NCR’s Operations Officer for BA16, Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Perry, felt we pushed the envelope during this exercise.
“In addition to having meaningful training for our personnel before the exercise started, the quality of the operational planning team drove the concept of operations, Perry said. “I feel everyone involved learned a great deal from this exercise.”
One of the added benefits of BA16 was using it as a unit level training and readiness assessment (ULTRA), as well. According to Aguayo, an ULTRA exercise is used to sustain what we learned during NIEX.
“Using BA16 as an ULTRA, where the grading is internal, gives us a bump in readiness,” Aguayo said. “It helps us mitigate the degradation of skills that happens naturally over time. Overall, I’m extremely proud of our 22 NCR personnel. Their ability to communicate as a team will improve our readiness and our ability for command and control of our forces in the future.”