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Expeditionary Training Group Leads Navy Expeditionary Force's Integration into RIMPAC

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120803-07

By Expeditionary Training Group Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (NNS) -- Expeditionary Training Group (ETG) wrapped up its participation in the world's largest naval exercise Aug. 2, after spending three weeks conducting maritime security drills as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012.

ETG's focus was to train Navy expeditionary forces, integrate them into Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 and assess the deployment readiness of two Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) units.

Responsible for preparing NECC's echelon IV and V headquarters staffs for deployment certification, ETG led the Navy expeditionary forces through RIMPAC's scenarios, where they joined 25,000 military personnel from 22 countries including the U.S., Russia, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Singapore.

"Navy expeditionary forces continue to show the value they bring to combined and joint task force commanders with adaptable, scalable forces that can conduct a variety of missions, from landward and seaward security to diving and salvage, from explosive ordnance disposal to humanitarian assistance," said Capt. Michael Napolitano, ETG's commanding officer. "RIMPAC gave us a great opportunity to exercise our capabilities and integrate with a larger naval coalition force, resulting in valuable training for the Navy expeditionary forces and for the combined naval forces at sea."

ETG designed and conducted expeditionary scenarios for the humanitarian assistance and tactical phases of RIMPAC.

The humanitarian assistance/disaster relief event in the first week of the exercise called for Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 1 to lead a crisis response Adaptive Force Package (AFP) of Navy expeditionary forces into the fictional country of Chianti after a tsunami.

The Navy force had to work with host-nation authorities and civilian relief authorities to provide unique capabilities such as harbor survey and clearance, diving and salvage, security and cargo handling, to support the distribution of food, water, medical care and shelter to the afflicted population. A challenge for the AFP was to figure out where they fit in the disaster relief chain of command and what that meant to the relief they could offer.

"It is truly a cultural difference between the military and civilian relief agencies," Napolitano said. "If we put these units into an international environment, not only are you going to have different countries interacting, but also these organizations that do humanitarian assistance work on a regular basis, who have a different mindset from the military."

To emphasize those differences, exercise designers included plenty of interaction between Navy forces and the host-nation government, as well as representatives from the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Red Cross, World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

They also invited the Healthcare Association of Hawaii and Tripler Army Medical Center to participate, and more than 100 doctors, nurses and medical staff volunteered to set up a field hospital on Ford Island and provide emergency medical care to "tsunami" victims. Helicopters from HSC-4 were also used to assist with medical evacuations and emergency medical relief supply delivery.

These interactions helped emphasize the point to the NECC force that in HADR operations, the Navy's role is to support civil authorities, international government and non-governmental organizations.

"That's a critical lesson for (NECC forces) to learn," said Anthony Krueger, ETG's deputy commander, who played the U.S. Ambassador to "Chianti" during the exercise. "They are in a supporting role and knowing how their efforts fit into the overall, larger relief efforts will make it easier for them to deliver disaster relief where it's needed most. This is about building partnerships, not being in charge."

The second exercise scenario covered Navy expeditionary force play during RIMPAC's tactical phase and featured more traditional maritime security operations that dovetailed into the larger RIMPAC tactical, wartime scenarios.

In this phase, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) ONE led the adaptive force package; ETG assessed their headquarters staff in operations planning, course of action development and communication up and down the chain of command.

"In an exercise with so many forces working together to achieve strategic objectives on land and at sea, good planning and communication skills are critical to successful Navy operations," said Scott Brinkman, ETG's director of training. "We start early in the training process to give the staff the training and knowledge they need to plan for and conduct these operations in the fast-paced environment of an exercise like RIMPAC, or in real-world operations."

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