Story by MC1 David Kolmel, Expeditionary Combat Camera
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The experiment brought together Seabees from Naval Construction Group 2 and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12, and Navy Expeditionary Warfighting Development Center (EXWDC) personnel to validate recently updated doctrine and experiment with new technologies to increase ADR efficiency and safety.
Naval Postgraduate School and Georgia Tech Research Institute, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, conducted experimentation with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to conduct autonomous surveying, damage and unexploded ordnance detection, and mapping of the airfield. The goal of the research is to develop an end-to-end automated assessment tool utilizing swarming UAS technology to quickly collect and analyze data over a damaged runway without placing Sailors in harm’s way. Rutgers University demonstrated their efforts in expeditionary cement and concrete which utilizes indigenous material and less water, all in an effort to reduce the logistics requirements for ADR.
Exposing the researchers to real-world scenarios increased their awareness of ADR.
“It is extremely helpful for engineers and scientists to get in the field and get eyes on real damage, interact with the Seabees, interact with the EOD techs, and to understand the whole problem set,” said Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Durika, Navy Construction Force requirements officer, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. “It is one thing to sit behind a computer thinking you understand the problem, but to actually get in the field, experience seeing real demolition, real craters and spalls on an airfield, and the current manning and equipment required to execute repairs is an invaluable benefit of having our scientists in the field.”
EOD technicians used demolition to create damage reflective of estimated damage patterns from an enemy strike. The simulated damage allows for more realistic training.
“For explosive damage vice mechanical [digging] damage, you’re not going to get a camouflet, which is a gas filled space under the runway. Doing it mechanically, you’re not going to get all the gravel and upheaval that you are going to get utilizing explosives,” said Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician John Solomon, assigned to EODMU-12. “It makes it a more realistic training environment because it’s what you’re going to actually see when you go downrange.”
The experiment afforded EXWDC the opportunity to validate with Seabees and EOD the newly drafted Tactical Memorandum for Navy Expeditionary Rapid ADR.
“Currently, our battalion works a legacy method that is based on the Air Force methodology when we had a large main base that was setup with the infrastructure already in place,” explained Lt. Justin Chambers, NMCB-1 officer in charge for the ADR experimental detail. “This methodology will be used more for the expeditionary side, that’s where we push forward and establish an airfield with the EOD techs in support, if required.”
During the experiment, NECC hosted guests from Joint Staff J4, Naval Aviation, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force Civil Engineer Center to provide stakeholders insight regarding the current status of NECC’s ADR methods and potential for improvement.
Reducing the timeline and logistics requirement to conduct ADR enables Distributed Maritime Operations, a central, overarching operational concept, allowing fleet commanders the ability to distribute but still maneuver the fleet across an entire theater of operations as an integrated weapon system, which directly supports the National Defense Strategy. Navy Expeditionary Forces enable the naval commander to translate sea control into power projected ashore; first by enabling access and then by establishing the expeditionary infrastructure required by naval forces to conduct and sustain operations.