Seabees Take Command and Control of Resolute Castle ’19

Story by MCC Linda Andreoli, 7th Naval Construction Regiment

POLAND – U.S. Army 372nd Engineers, a reserve brigade (BDE) from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, arrived in Poland in January 2019 with the mission of over-seeing nearly 25 construction projects spread over three task forces in two countries during exercise Resolute Castle (RC) 19.

Resolute Castle is a training exercise for U.S. military and NATO engineers that supports Atlantic Resolve. It is a multinational, joint exercise with real-world outputs of completed construction projects that enhance training capabilities in various areas of NATOs eastern member states.

Commodore Cameron Geertsema, 22 Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), speaks with 22 NCR and 7 NCR Seabees during staff call in Boleslawiec, Poland, during exercise Resolute Castle. Members are left to right, Lt. Jeff McAlum, Lt. Cmdr. Jeromy Pittmann, Lt. Alex McCorkindale, and Lt. Cmdr. Max Bateman, May 23. (Photo by MCC Linda Andreoli)

 

“Resolute Castle 19 has been a growth process for us to help us further train and enhance our ability to be a ready deployment asset to the Army and the joint force,” said  Maj. Robert Mikyska, the 372nd officer in charge. “In fiscal year 2018 we were involved at battalion headquarters in Cincu, Romania.”

This year the brigade assumed mission command over the entire RC 19 exercise and will be in Poland until September 2019. Seabees from 22nd Naval Construction Regiments (NCR) and 7th NCR from Gulfport, Mississippi, deployed to the region in May.

“We have relinquished control to the Seabees so they can come in and exercise command and control over a joint mission,” said Mikyska. “This allows us to conduct a staff exercise which will develop our redeployment operations order.”

After the Army departed the theater, the Navy continued the mission all while evaluating joint and combined engineering processes and provided input for improvements. Any changes incorporated in the over-all project management process would have to be sustainable by RC 19 forces and maintained by the Army’s 372nd Engineer BDE.

“The incorporation of the Seabees at a brigade level is a prime example of interservice operability,” said Army First Lt. Steven Scott of the 301st Forward Engineer Support Team. “The Navy is tasked with taking over operations while the operations are occurring and I liken that to jumping on a moving train. It is valuable to have outside perspective on our operations. We’re all talking about the same things but have different ways to say it – ultimately it is how do we accomplish the mission.”

“The training that RC 19 affords the Naval Construction Force, in particular 22 NCR and 7 NCR, is excellent in regards to sustainment training in a deployed environment furthering unit readiness,” said Capt. Cameron Geertsema, commodore for 22 NCR. “In this setting, we are able to practice principles of command and control, logistics, and engineering operations. Upon redeployment, my desire is to look back and be able to say – we have strengthened partnerships, improved infrastructure, and demonstrated proficiency in engineering operations.”

Chief Equipment Operator Robert Watkins, a Seabee with the 7th Naval Construction Regiment, instructs Soldiers of the 15th Engineer Battalion during construction of a turn pad in Karliki, Poland, May 17. (Photo by MCC Linda Andreoli)

 

Task Force North consisted of the region around Drawsko Pormorskie Training Area and Task Force Central Zagan-Swietoszow in Poland. Task Force South was in Cincu, Romania.

“Our Polish and Romanian hosts have been gracious and have demonstrated incredible military proficiency,” said Geertsema.

Training and working in a forward environment can present challenges not experienced in the continental U.S.

“The units on the ground have the difficult task of utilizing locally procured materials that sometimes don’t always align with the U.S. designs provided,” said Scott.  “But the troops actions are commendable in their modifications to designs and adaption to the situation on the ground in order to accomplish their mission. I’m very eager to see the final project packages for RC 19; how modifications and refined designs lead to new standards for the European theatre.”

Continuing to work together as a joint and combined force is fundamental to the success of future Resolute Castle exercises.

“The interoperability achieved between the Army and Navy, and partnering NATO allies is phenomenal and will strengthen our readiness and capability for years to come,” said Geertsema.

This sentiment is echoed by Mikyska, who said the Army to Navy transition was “absolutely seamless.”

“It truly has been one of the most enjoyable transitions I have been a part of,” said Mikyska. “The Navy provided competent leaders, Sailors, and a level of expertise that will allow me as the Army lead to further serve our stakeholders. Truly feels like a big family. It’s like we’ve always worked together – it’s phenomenal.”

 

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