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Naval Coastal Warfare Units Safeguard Troop Rotations, Supplies in Kuwait

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040304-18

Release Date: 3/4/2004 4:09:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Wes Eplen, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait (NNS) -- Navy Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit (MIUWU) 206 and Coast Guard Port Security Unit (PSU) 307, collectively known as Naval Coastal Warfare, traveled to Kuwait Naval Base and the port of Ash Shyuabah Jan. 29 to safeguard the vital supply chain as it transitions from ship to shore and prepares for the journey north to Iraq.

"The scope of this operation basically is bringing high-value cargo in for the sustainment operation up in Iraq," said Lt. Cmdr. Tovin Palmer of MIUWU 206. "Most of the cargo and troop sustainment is coming through this port. So our main job is to protect the LCACs [Landing Craft, Air Cushion] coming in so that they can safely land their load, which will then convoy north to continue with the force changeout."

"Our mission is to provide 24/7 surveillance in harbors and ocean areas that a high-value asset or Navy ship might anchor, to patrol in boats with weapons that can go out and protect the ship, and to man weapons stations on shore so that anybody approaching those vessels can be engaged," said MUIWU 206 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Phil Silver.

Both MIUWU 206 and PSU 307 units bring unique capabilities, assets and personalities that, when combined, provide a synergistic force that ensures the safety of high-value U.S. assets.

"The MIUWU brings sensor platforms," said PSU 307 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jeff Bauer. "They have some shore batteries, but in essence, they are the sensor platform, whether it's radar, sonar, visual or anything of that nature. They direct our boats to threats."

"We're the eyes that provide support to the boats on the water so that we can get them to the target and they can engage the target," said Silver. "The relationship works because it's symbiotic. We can't do what they do, and they can't do what we do."

The MIUWU has a variety of highly mobile sensor platforms capable of reconfiguring at a moment's notice to meet the needs of the mission. Vehicle-mounted radars, infrared and visual sensors are widely dispersed and linked by microwave and radio. Various gun points and fighting positions are established along the shoreline and pier to provide a multi-layered defense to compliment the patrol craft on the water.

"We watch any boat, any aircraft, any people. We report everything, because anything could be a threat," said Sonar Technician 1st Class James Anderson of MIUWU 206.

It is the Coast Guard patrol craft, however, that provide the first line of waterside defense. In addition to regular patrols, any number of additional craft can be deployed as needed at a moment's notice. Individual boat crews work in teams of two or more to intercept any waterborne threat, provide warnings and guide them out of the protected areas, or, if necessary, combat and subdue the threat.

"What we're trying to do is screen unauthorized vessels from coming in the area," added Coast Guard Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Jay Laatz, coxswain of one of the patrol craft.

Uniquely, while MIUWU 206 and PSU 307 are fully commissioned units, they are staffed almost entirely by personnel from the Navy and Coast Guard Reserves.

Regardless, Naval Coastal Warfare units must constantly remain ready to deploy at a moment's notice.

"I got a call on New Year's Eve that said, 'stand by,'" Silver said. "It was the middle of the first week in January that the request for forces came down telling us to come out here. It was on Jan. 20 that we showed up to be mobilized, and the first group got on an airplane Jan. 29. So within a month from when we got our first notice, we were here."

Although there are many sacrifices that must be made, what draws people to Naval Coastal Warfare units is simple.

"The reward is, you can't be more relevant in the Naval Reserve than being on this pier right now," said Silver. "There's no other job in the Naval Reserve that puts you as close to the action or the assets."

MIUWU 206 will return home in early March. Having replaced PSU 208, PSU 307 will remain on station to safeguard to port of Ash Shyuabah.

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