By MC2 Daniel Garas, NMCB 15 Public Affairs
Seabees of NMCB 15 set security in a simulated build site during training to prepare for their final evaluation problem (FEP) before deployment. FEP is used to train and evaluate Seabees on various scenarios they may face. NMCB 15 is mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and is an expeditionary element of U.S. Naval Forces that act as combat engineers and support various units worldwide through national force readiness, humanitarian assistance and building and maintaining infrastructure.
Photo by MC2 Daniel Garas
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 15, based in Belton, Mo., participated in convoy simulator training, Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Miss., Jan. 24.
Over two days, officers and other key leaders trained to run a Combat Operation Center (COC) and experience the difficulties of communicating during vehicle mounted convoy operations through the use of simulators run by the 20th Seabee Readiness Group (SRG).
“I found the training beneficial because I had never done anything like it before,” said Ens. Michael Cole, NMCB 15’s embarkation commander. “Everything was new to me. It was an eye-opening experience to how fast everything happens.”
The simulator has three different bays, complete with replicate high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles surrounded by a 360-degree screen onto which a variety of programmable scenarios can be projected. During the training the group ran through several different obstacles that included driving through urban environments, rough terrain, ambushes and running into an improvised explosive device (IED).
“For the purpose of communication and quick decision making it was great training,” said Lt. jg. Jamil Ramos, NMCB 15’s Alpha Company.
Personnel controlling the simulator highlighted the challenges that they or their junior Sailors may encounter during convoys by adding challenges to the simulation or altering the terrain. The students communicated with other vehicles in their convoy and worked to transmit situational reports (SITREPs), while engaged in a variety of training scenarios.
“From an enlisted standpoint, you get visibility on what kind of things they may be exposed to,” Ramos said. “That tends to open up your eyes for your frame of mind to focus and make better decisions.”
According to Ron Williams, a civilian contractor working for the 20th SRG, the simulators save time and money by eliminating the need to reset live-action scenarios and can be used to design specific lessons. In addition, if a Sailor’s duty usually keeps him restricted to the COC, it allows a unique opportunity to obtain an understanding of how mounted convoy operations work.
During the simulation debrief, Williams stressed the need for commanders to understand patience when seeking information.
“If you’re back at the COC and asking for a SITREP, you have to give your people time to send it up,” he said. “As you just experienced, your people may be dealing with several complex problems at once.”
At the conclusion of the training, Ramos commented on how simulators helped highlight the importance of their communication.
“During convoy you have to be able to communicate, receive information and understand how to process it to make a command decision. It may be what keeps your people alive,” he said.