Long-standing Navy-Army Partnership at Fort Hunter Liggett

Story by Amy Phillips, Fort Hunter Liggett Public Affairs Office

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 (NMCB 5) based at Port Hueneme, California, spent two weeks at Fort Hunter Liggett (FHL) in February, as part of Operation Turning Point. The exercise was a win-win for the Seabees utilizing their skills in real-world projects at installations across the nation and for the installations that receive products to enhance its capabilities.

This troop project is part of FHL’s modernization efforts to upgrade and increase training capabilities. FHL Garrison Commander Col. Charles Bell and FHL Headquarters, Headquarters Company Commander Maj. Christopher Lauff, both engineers by trade, were excited to see the Seabees’ project at Training Area 10 (TA 10) from start to finish. “I’m excited because this platform is part of our plan to enhance this engineer training area,” said Bell.

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 based at Port Hueneme, California, constructed a concrete pad at Fort Hunter Liggett’s Training Area 10 during two weeks in February 2021. FHL Commander Col. Charles Bell presented four Seabees identified by the NMCB 5 officer-in-charge with a challenge coin for their exceptional service. Builder Petty Officer 3rd Class Gerou receives coin from Bell. (U.S. Army photo by Amy Phillips)

“The next phase of this project is the erection of a pre-engineered building (PEB) that will serve as a classroom and simulations facility for Army engineers students learning the initial skills of being equipment operators (MOS 12N),” said Lauff.

“Having an all-weather classroom inside the training area will allow our engineers to learn concepts, step outside, and immediately put those concepts into practice,” said TASS Training Center Fort Hunter Liggett (TTC-FHL) Officer-in-Charge MAJ Jose A. Yrigollen. TA 10 is TTC-FHL’s main training location.

Lauff is the action officer that spearheads and facilitates all troop projects. He also oversees the purchasing of materials that each project requires. According to Lauff, other TA 10 enhancements include a loading ramp, maintenance pad, improved instruction areas, a vault latrine, and a solar powered well.

“Everything we’re doing is to increase the capacity of 12N (horizontal construction) training and to provide Soldiers a world class training environment to learn their jobs,” said Lauff. “The best part is we have Navy sailors in conjunction with Army Soldiers, all engineers, supporting and working with each other.”

“Watching the progress and expedience of a good team brings me back to the days when I was a captain leading an engineer company,” smiled Bell. “I miss those days.”

Bell presented four exceptional Seabees, identified by the NMCB 5 officer-in-charge, with his challenge coin at TA10, and went to Port Hueneme to present two additional sailors with the Army Achievement Medal for their superior contributions.

NMCB 5 designed and constructed the 20 foot by 60 foot concrete platform which required six truckloads of concrete, roughly 60 cubic yards. According to Lauff, the concrete was purchased from a Paso Robles company.

“We’re always glad to support the local economy,” said Bell, who is proud to share this type of information during meetings with elected officials and community leaders highlighting the Army’s contribution to the local economy. FHL also provides hundreds of jobs for people living in surrounding areas.

“Operation Turning Point also helps us prepare for deployment,” said Lt. Junior Grade Andrew Quan. Navy Seabees, like their Army engineer counterparts, are often one of the first military assets to deploy. Their skills are critical to pave the way for service members that follow them by constructing bases and building; building airfields, roads bridges, and much more. A time-lapse video by NMCB 5 is available here: https://www.facebook.com/NCGONE/videos/2499798790315106.

Navy Seabees from NMCB 5 and Naval Construction Group 1 from Port Hueneme have a satellite compound at FHL, and conduct large-scale exercises annually at FHL.

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