Seabees and Air Force Train Together

Story by MC1 Collin Turner, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 participated in a training and qualifying exercise provided by the Unites States Air Force 554th Red Horse Squadron (RHS), Dec. 3-13. RHS regularly conducts contingency construction training to maximize readiness of critical mission skillsets in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) theater mission objectives.

Builder Constructionman Hannah Haynes, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, guides a forklift to place Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) for rapid repair of damaged airfield pavement.  (Photo by BU3 Adam Wheeler)

The 11-day course at Andersen Air Force Base included a curriculum of sixteen separate Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs). The Air Force cadre provided hands on instruction to students focusing on a thorough understanding of material and sound execution of assigned tasking. The training was followed by practical applications of the skills obtained through field exercises. These Seabees and Airmen will be among the first called upon by Combatant Commanders to work in forward operating airfields. Their newly attained mission essential skill sets will ensure airfield operability for a broad range of both Naval and Air Force aircraft.

The Seabees from NMCB-11 were assigned to two separate functions: the structures team, and the Command and Control (C2) operations. The C2 element contributed to expeditionary air base planning and execution of phased operations. Doing so required extensive communications amongst participating groups to coordinate response efforts.

Many Seabees from NMCB-11 attend the Naval Construction Force’s (NCF) equivalent training prior to deployment.

“Observing the way the Air Force ties all the airfield repair operations together is something we would like to bring back to our training command,” said Lt. Nick Vicchio Det. Guam Operations Officer, . “Our training focuses on airfield repair. With our Seabees’ construction abilities, it makes sense to train in repairing the entire facility at once.”

The structures team encompassed the construction aspect of the operation accomplishing tasks such as tent setup, vertical construction, and rapid airfield damage repair (RADR).

Airfield Damage Repair is a standard operation for a Seabee Battalion; however, the implementation of RADR response is a relatively new method of combat engineering for airfield operations. Unlike typical ADR, simulated airfield craters were filled by anchoring fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) over crushed stone.

“I think this method of repair works to our advantage”, said Builder 3rd Class Austin Ray. “We can accomplish significantly more repair in a fraction of the time compared to the old methods”.

Combatant Commanders rely upon seamless joint operations to accomplished theater objectives one of which includes enabling both port and airfield operations globally on demand. The training conducted is a testament to the efforts of Navy and Air Force personnel in strengthening joint interoperability. Silver Flag is one of many exercises conducted yearly culminating in the international RADR exercise Cope North.

Homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, NMCB-11 is part of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The NCF is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy and is comprised of deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support in support of regional partners and combatant commanders.

NMCB-11 is currently forward deployed to Guam in support of commander, Task Force (CTF) 75 and will remain deployed until they are relieved early next year.

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