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Reserve Integration Key to NECC Success

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070917-08
Release Date: 9/17/2007 3:16:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jen Crenshaw, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (NNS) -- Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s (NECC) first Command and Control, Operational, Maritime, Expeditionary Training (COMET) came to a close Sept. 14 after two weeks of training at Ft. Pickett, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Cheatham Annex, and Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek.

The exercise was intended to not only exercise the Navy’s expeditionary forces under one command and control element, but to also train its reserve force as an integrated part of maritime expeditionary operations.

Since the dawn of the Naval Reserve in 1915, the reserve force has played crucial roles in supporting the active duty Navy fight the enemy in Korea, Vietnam and the first Gulf War.

But as the global war on terrorism progresses, the United States is fighting an enemy that is unpredictable. According to the William Navas, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) in the May 2004 issue of Naval Reserve Association News, the Navy no longer wants the reserve force to simply support the Navy. Now it’s become critical they fill the same roles, deploy to the same regions and become indistinguishable from their active duty counterparts.

Now, three years later, they’re working and training side-by-side in realistic training environments.

“We take pride in being full and equal peers with our active-duty counterparts,” said Capt. Robert Perry, commodore of Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWS) 26. “We bring additional capabilities, experience and expertise in order to complement our fellow shipmates.”

NECC subordinate commands have some of the highest ratios of reserve to active duty personnel. Approximately 47 percent of NECC is made up of reserve forces, and those components are vital to NECC's mission accomplishment. Until the attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) in October 2000, the inshore boat units (IBU) that provide harbor defense for ship’s protection when transiting in and out of ports were manned solely by reserve personnel.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about the Naval Reserve force, why we’re here and what we do,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Mike Emory. “Most of us in the NECC community have at least six years of active duty under our belts. Then on top of that, some have more time as reservists. Where most active duty Sailors travel around and don’t always get to work in the same job, we don’t move. I’ve been with this command for eight years as a reserv[ist].”

According to Perry, the concept of “one weekend a month; two weeks a year” as a reservist is completely thrown out the window. As a force that deploys at a moment’s notice, reservists are required to be just as ready.

“Most of the reserv[ists] within NCW have deployed at least twice,” said Perry. “Many have four or five tours, and there’s always the possibility of more to follow.”

Thanks to the seamless inclusion of reserve and active-duty Sailors, says NECC commander, Rear Adm. Don Bullard, NECC has become the standard and the ultimate success story of integration, and their ability to operate together in real-world situations has increased force capability and capacity in the expeditionary environment.

“By optimizing the active/reserve components mix and alignment, NECC is able to deliver warfighting capability and readiness to warfare commanders by engaging the proper skills and assets of our active-duty and reserve Sailors,” said Bullard.

As NECC moves further into the 21st century and maintains the fight against enemies in the global war on terror, the Naval Reserve force will continue to be more than just “weekend warriors.” And as long as they’re wearing the uniform, they will work in an integrated maritime environment and enhance the cooperation among NECC’s assorted expeditionary units.

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