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Leadership, Teamwork Highlighted at NMCB 133 Khaki Field Exercise

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120329-23

By Lt. j.g. Alberto Crespo, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 made great strides in team development during its Khaki Field Training Exercise (FTX) that ended March 16.

The exercise was an opportunity to train new junior officers in tactical and leadership skills, while improving teamwork and building camaraderie among the battalion's leadership.

"I am more confident now that we have a lot of talented leaders that I can count on as we prepare for and execute [our next] deployment later this year," said Lt. Cmdr. Dean Allen, the battalion's operations officer. "That is a direct result of this training event, where we set our own priorities and drove our own training blocks."

The classroom portion took place aboard the Naval Construction Battalion Center and utilized subject matter experts from the battalion to facilitate lectures and practical applications, including a demonstration of defensive fighting positions.

The field portion was held at Camp Shelby where the most junior personnel led the more senior ones, as the group formed into three squads based loosely on "reverse seniority," with a fourth acting as "aggressors."

For the duration of the four-day exercise, the squads executed patrols, convoys, Command Operations Center (COC) operations, and defensive operations.

Patrol training required that each squad plan their routes in order to conduct security in and around the camp, while demonstrating hand signal communications, patrol formations, communication with the COC and land navigation, all while being attacked by the aggressor squad.

Convoy training consisted of four Humvee's armed with machine guns where the squad trained to mission scenarios revolving around entering villages of unknown occupants. In these scenarios, villagers were frequently hostile, often utilizing coordinated attacks to ambush the convoy. Convoy mission planning was the emphasis of this phase, along with immediate action drills, proper use of weapons, vehicle maneuvering, and rules of engagement.

The COC training served to reemphasize the importance of a communications and control hub within the battalion.

The final day included a defensive sweep of a potential site to erect a forward operating base by the entire platoon. With numerous detainees at the site as well as small arms attacks from the woods, efforts were constantly hampered throughout the evolution.

Once the evolution was completed, Allen said the group had reached or exceeded all their objectives for the training event.

"Officers and chiefs refined their tactical knowledge in a field setting," said Allen. "The Command Element was able to assess the working dynamics of our Khaki in a controlled but challenging environment, and Esprit de Corps was significantly improved."

With a successful and safe conclusion, many lessons learned were gathered for future use.

"While this didn't happen without some growing pains, I think the battalion succeeded in hitting its mark for a Khaki Field Training Exercise guided by the battalion's Training Skills Assessment Program", said Lt. Jon Pilon, the exercise's platoon commander. "I think the effort expended to make this FTX happen was rewarded with successful tactical training events, the growth of many junior officers, and the creation of a tighter-knit cadre of NMCB 133 khaki."

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