NMCB 133 DET Guam Seabees Participate in Joint Operations Silver Flag Exercise

By MC1 Cliff Williams, NMCB 133

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UT1 Brad Sweeting, NMCB 133 DET Guam, balances chemicals in a reverse osmosis water purification unit during Exercise Silver Flag, Anderson AFB, Guam, Aug. 26. Sweeting was one of eight Seabees from the battalion who participated in the U.S. Air Force’s Silver Flag training exercise. Photo by Ens. Isaac Dunn

Recently, Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133, Detachment Guam, participated with U.S. Air Force Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (BEEF) personnel in support of Exercise Silver Flag. While simulated attacks were made by enemy forces from “West Aerok,” eight Seabees provided support to Charlie Airbase during the exercise held at Anderson Air Force Base (AFB), Guam.

Immediately following the turnover of Camp Covington from NMCB 1 to NMCB 133, Detachment Guam sent their Seabees to Anderson AFB on the north end of Guam to support the exercise. Silver Flag is an Air Force civil engineering exercise held at several locations across the globe. The expeditionary training is designed to set up operations at bare-base locations; it features bed-down planning, base recovery, command and control, and airfield recovery. The exercise also includes a variety of specialty training such as heavy equipment operation, set up of aircraft arresting barriers, emergency airfield lighting, generator installation and maintenance, and fire rescue technician training. This is the first time the Silver Flag exercise was conducted in Guam.

For the first six days of the exercise, personnel were divided into their career fields. The time was used to prepare the group for reinstituting “Charlie Airbase.” On day seven of the exercise, the “deployed forces” at Charlie Airbase came together to respond to different attacks and tasking injects put forth by the instructors. Scenarios ranged from mortar fire to chemical and biological attacks to casualties. In responding to these scenarios, the Seabees and Airmen, side-by-side in full battle gear, repaired the airfield to ensure that F-16 aircraft were capable of takeoffs and landings. The exercise took approximately 14 hours from start to finish, of which six hours were spent in Mission Oriented Protective Posture level two and four, which is protective gear used by military personnel in a chemical, biological or radiological environment.

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UTCN Zachary Funk (kneeling), NMCB 133 DET Guam, takes a reading on a reverse osmosis water purification unit while other Seabees look on during Exercise Silver Flag, Anderson AFB, Guam, Aug. 23. Seabees combined with U.S. Air Force civil engineering units to support the exercise.

In the past, when Silver Flag was conducted at Kadena AFB, the Seabees of Camp Shields would often complement the exercise with personnel. NMCB 133 was proud to continue the relations with their Air Force Civil Engineer counterparts.

“The Air Force’s equipment is much the same as the Seabees, but their terminology is very different,” said Chief Steelworker Joshua Eichelberger, NMCB 133. “It took the first couple of days for us to familiarize ourselves with the Air Force terminology, but once we passed that phase we integrated ourselves quite efficiently with our Air Force counterparts. The overall experience was very beneficial because the military continues to become more oriented toward joint operations; thus, interoperability becomes an invaluable asset.”

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EACN Jessica Couvillier (right), NMCB 133 Detachment Guam, assists in using a density cone pentameter to test the shearing strength of soil during Exercise Silver Flag, Anderson AFB, Guam, Aug. 23.

The training was beneficial for both the Seabees and the Air Force. The 554th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) Squadron Detachment One Commander, Major Kevin A. Mares, when asked about Seabees participating in future Silver Flag exercises, replied, “Definitely. This was the last step to open up Silver Flag to all of PACOM, and the Seabees of NMCB 133 fit right in line with our mission of training airmen and sister services in a joint environment.”

From all accounts, the Running ‘Roos of NMCB 133 participating in the Silver Flag exercise hit the ground running with the famous “Can Do” spirit and worked well with their Air Force counterparts. They were excited to be part of the exercise and have the opportunity to learn about how the Air Force operates.

“I enjoyed learning the Air Force’s power production and would love to come back to the next Silver Flag to learn the electrical side of operations,” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Steven R. Troxell, NMCB 133.

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EACN Jessica Couvillier (left), NMCB 133, works with U.S. Air Force civil engineers to survey runway damage during a training segment as part of Exercise Silver Flag, Anderson AFB, Guam, Aug. 23.

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