Story by Equipment Operator 1st Class Jonathan Willbur
Navy Military Training Instructors (NMTI) at Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE) Detachment Fort Leonard Wood continue to provide professional military instruction to ensure its graduates are ready to join the fleet despite the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With the COVID health crisis, many Sailors recently reporting from boot camp had modified training schedules, resulting in challenges that CSFE Detachment Fort Leonard Wood’s Naval Military Training Instructors (NMTI) and its students have had to overcome.
“The restriction of movement has been difficult to handle, as well as having to spend a significant amount of time in quarantine,” said Equipment Operator Constructionman Isaac Brooks, a student in equipment operator “A” school class 21070. “The NMTIs have very been helpful. I am proud to be a Seabee.”
As a small Navy detachment on an Army installation, the NMTI’s have to comply with both Army and Navy regulations and have had to modify their usual routine. They have had to become creative in the execution of weekly inspections, and after hours military instruction by utilizing Microsoft Teams in separate rooms and putting more responsibilities on students in leadership roles.
The NMTI’s put more pressure and motivation on achieving outstanding inspections while offering incentives to reduce students at musters such as increased liberty and, after passing two room inspections, getting an exemption on the third. Some of the mandatory COVID mitigation efforts that have had to be factored into the routine training process include use of face coverings, limited personnel capacity in class rooms, and meeting social distancing requirements.
“The standards and expectations of the students have not changed but we have had to become creative in finding ways to continue military instruction that complies with COVID restrictions,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Struyk, CSFE Detachment Fort Leonard Wood’s NMTI Lead Petty Officer. “One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that we adhere to multiple general orders and instructions that change on a routine basis.”
Another hurdle that the NMTI’s have had to face is to keep student body morale high and to maintain a focus on mentorship for our Sailors during these difficult times. When COVID restrictions eased slightly, the NMTI staff seized the opportunity to celebrate the Seabees’ 79th Birthday. Fort Leonard Wood’s Seabee Ball committee coordinated to provide a split catered lunch to the entire student body, and the detachment provided the traditional cake cutting ceremony with the youngest and oldest Seabee. It was not the usual Seabee Ball held during the birthday, but never the less served to celebrate Seabee history during a time of uncertainty.
CSFE Detachment Fort Leonard Wood, located at the U.S. Army’s Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, is an Interservice Review Organization partner hosted by the U.S. Army, instructing equipment operator and engineering aide entry-level accession training for Navy, Air Force, and Army students. The detachment provides Navy-unique courses in construction management, crewmember, and forklift operations, as well as providing instructor and administrative support for Navy students attending the Mobile Utilities Support Equipment School.