By EA3 Lawrence Romang, NCG2 Public Affairs
BU1 (SCW) Rolland Jorgensen and BU1 (SCW/AW) Franklin Ring do a routine inspection on a water bowl at FTX/FEP, Camp Shelby, Miss. Photo by EA3 Lawrence Romang
Every battalion stationed at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Miss., that is scheduled to deploy must undergo a scenario-based field exercise, hosted by Naval Construction Group (NCG) 2. During the exercise, NCG 2 tests battalions on specific skill sets, including military tactics and contingency construction.
The field exercise takes place at Camp Shelby in the DeSoto National Forest and lasts two to three weeks. Field Training Exercise/Final Evaluation Period (FTX/FEP) is scenario-based training where the battalions conduct missions in hostile territory.
The first half, FTX, is a training environment where NCG 2 assists battalions to correctly accomplish their set goals. The second half, FEP, is the evaluation portion of the exercise where NCG 2 assesses the skills battalion members have learned during FTX, as well as during homeport training.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 participated in the exercise in mid-October. Months before the evolution, NCG 2 staff trained NMCB 11 on military tactics, contingency construction, communications and safety through a series of classes. Tactical training classes include education in Tactical Leader, Squad Leader and Basic Combat Skills (Level 2). NCG 2 also trains a Convoy Security Element which is responsible for safely transporting the battalion between sites.
“We’ve been working with NMCB 11 for the past three months or so,” said Chief Builder (SCW) Dapri King, NCG 2 tactical training lead. “Getting them all the classes they need for FTX/FEP, and at the same time, we’ve been looking ahead and have already started getting [Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1] in some classes. For us, it’s continuous training from one FTX/FEP to the next.
Seabees are expected to remember their training and demonstrate what they have learned during the months preceding FTX/FEP. NCG 2 constantly tests the battalion with simulated small arms fire and IEDs. They also send out NCG 2 personnel acting as locals – sometimes hostile, sometimes not – to interact with the battalion.
“We send out hits all day and all night,” King explained. “We’re not necessarily grading off a list. We grade on the decision-making we see. If there is an area that isn’t being defended well, we’ll keep attacking them until they do.”
CE2 (SCW) Alfonso Delgado (center) and UT2 (SCW) Justin Brazinsky (left), both assigned to NCG 2, discuss camp layout with CE2 (SCW) Shawn Flowers, NMCB 11, Camp Shelby, Miss.
Besides teaching classes, NCG 2 spends a substantial amount of time planning FTX/FEP. Chief Warrrant Officer 4th Class (SCW/IDWO) Chuck Taylor and his N2 intelligence team design the initial scenario weeks in advance. The scenario includes maps of the local area, transformed to look like an imaginary country where hostile forces are engaged in conflict. Every FTX/FEP is unique, but there are usually neutral locals, aggressive extremists and a host-nation armed force.
“We look at where the battalion will be deploying, and try to give them a realistic scenario,” said Taylor. “A lot of it is up to them, though. We are constantly responding to the actions of the battalion.”
While in the field, the N2 department reacts to the battalion’s actions – they are constantly improvising new scenarios on the fly. For example, NMCB 11 occupied an area where locals lived. How the battalion responds to the upset locals could change their attitude and allegiance and very rapidly change the scenario.
“We don’t want to make everything into a no-win scenario,” said Taylor. “But we do want to try and make everything a lesson learned. We want the battalion to think about possible repercussions of their actions.”
Contingency construction is another part of the mission that goes through careful evaluation. While the battalion is working against constant attacks on their camp, they are also working toward constructing two Southwest Asia huts, crow’s nest, bunker and helicopter landing zone. Most projects are scheduled before the FTX/FEP begins, and the battalions must submit a Bill of Material so that all material can be ordered and taken to the site.
There are also a few projects, called Adaptive Force Projects. These projects come as a surprise to the battalions to assess quick reaction skills, and can usually be completed in 24-48 hours. The construction projects are typically inspected at least twice a day by the Contingency Crew Construction Training (CCCT) crew.
“The best part of doing an FTX/FEP is being able to see the battalion put to use all of the tools we’ve given them throughout our classes. It gives us a chance to see the results of all the training,” said Builder 1st Class (SCW/AW) Franklin Ring, CCCT FTX/FEP leading petty officer. “It also gives us a chance to see what worked during training and what didn’t, so we can take that information home with us and improve the classes for the next battalion.”
NCG 2 will host FTX/FEP at least four times this fiscal year.