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Seabee Exercise Hones Small-Unit Leadership

Navy Newsstand

Release Date: 11/13/2002

By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Scott Sutherland, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- One of the best expressions of small-unit leadership in the Navy isn't found in a dictionary. For "The Professionals" of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, it was found during a Command Post Exercise (CPX) on Camp Mitchell Oct. 26.

A CPX is used to train the battalion staff and junior Seabees to better plan, coordinate, synchronize and execute contingency tasks from a combat operations center. This exercise was conducted within the camp in Spain and featured training on interior guard security and convoy operations.

Small-unit leadership was evident in the three exercise command posts as well as in the field. Seabees trained in one of the command posts, or learned about planning and coordinating a convoy, or how to defend against a camp intrusion by aggressors.

Chief Steelworker (SCW) Timothy Jones of Virginia Beach, Va., saw examples of small-unit leadership at work up close in the Charlie Company command post.

Builder Constructionmen Ryan Harris and Christopher Young manned the communications stations there, receiving and transmitting messages via land line, computer and radio. As part of the small-unit leadership concept, Jones said, Young and Harris showed their leadership skills in part by demonstrating what they know. The young Seabees recognize their skills are essential to overall unit success.

"What I do is important to the command post's mission," said Harris, a native of Portland, Ore. "I have to get the correct information about enemy movement and impending construction projects, and then make sure it's passed up the line."

"War wouldn't be won without communications," said Young, of Pataskala, Ohio.

"Instead of chief petty officers or first-class petty officers always taking charge," said Jones, "we're using the strong leadership abilities of young petty officers and [junior personnel] and pushing them to take charge. We see where their strengths and weaknesses are, and then we develop them as leaders. We put the right people with the right job. You can use this concept anywhere by maximizing the resources."

Jones said Young "did a dynamite job with communications," and that Harris "could teach a communications class."

Part of the CPX's goal was to capitalize on the battalion's "ability to respond quickly and decisively to all threats, as a result of our technological superiority and discipline that is ingrained in every man and woman in the battalion," said NMCB 5 Commanding Officer CDR David Fleisch.

The existing small-unit leadership skills of the men and women of "The Professionals" make training events like CPX successful. The Seabees also come away with a better understanding of what that leadership means to the Navy's mission --- and that everyone's job is important.

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