Story by MC3 Lisa Reese, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 participated in a strategic mobility exercise (STRATMOBEX) on board Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, July 9-12.
The exercise provides training to maintain readiness and sharpen skills needed to rapidly deploy personnel and equipment on a large scale.
“We have a lot of junior guys right now, a lot of them are just getting their licenses, so this exercise is geared to give them the experience of driving on and off a Landing Craft, Air Cushion,” said Chief Builder Jamie Harris, quality control for CBMU 202, who serves as the officer in charge of Defense Support of Civil Authorities for the exercise. “This scenario is like a crawl, walk, run for them in the sense we are preparing them for the time they will have to load up and respond to a hurricane.”
Last year Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were struck by hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, with winds as high as 155 mph, which was the first to directly impact Puerto Rico in 85 years. CBMU 202 was deployed to both locations, clearing roadways and assisting in relief efforts.
Equipment Operator 3rd Class Mason LaFountain, one of the unit’s drivers, remembers what it was like to put the skills he learned during mobility exercises like this one, to use in a real-world scenario.
“Last year we had a big impact,” said LaFountain. “We cleared nearly 500 miles of roads after mudslides, allowing people to travel to and from their homes. It also cleared the way for emergency services for people who needed it.”
From his real-world experience, LaFountain learned the importance of “train like you fight”.
“It’s helpful to run through this once or twice before we deploy because it helps make everything run smoother,” said LaFountain. “The most important part is making sure everyone knows their place, knows what their part is in the mission. Once everyone focuses on their part it all comes together to help people in need.”
Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the Naval Service. Seabees provide task tailored adaptable and combat ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support naval objectives globally. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s Seabee units adapt to mission requirements by being scalable and agile. Seabees provide military support for consequence management and disaster preparation and recovery, including overseas humanitarian assistance and support of civilian agencies.