News: MSRON 2 Takes Penultimate Step Toward Final Deployment
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Dustin Diaz
YORKTOWN, Va. – The sailors of Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 2 completed their Unit Level Training and Readiness Assessment at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown - Cheatham Annex May 30.
Maritime Expeditionary Security Group 2 evaluated MSRON 2’s Command Training Team in its ability to assess the squadron’s proficiency in establishing and defending a camp and providing maritime security for high value asset shipping in an expeditionary environment.
“This is the last step before our Final Evaluation Problem in June,” said MSRON 2 Command Master Chief (EXW/SW/AW) Eric T. Clark. “Once we do that, we will be certified ready to deploy and will be able to do so within 96 hours.”
All members of the squadron started building two self-sustaining camps, Dogfish and Red Hawk, aboard Cheatham Annex when ULTRA began May 21.
“Pulling off an exercise like this is like waking a sleeping giant,” said MSRON 2 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Kevin K. Hanson. “We normally operate in garrison with our vehicles in a vehicle lot, our boats in a maintenance facility, and all of our gear is normally locked away in containers ready for deployment. Now we have to establish a camp for 300 people and the logistics that go into that are pretty daunting.
“We have to move all our equipment 60 miles up the road and set it all up; we have to set up a tent city; lay down an electrical grid; we have to provide environmental services to all the berthing and working tents with air conditioning and generators that we must fuel multiple times a day; we set up a full communications suite to support our command and control. It’s quite an effort just to get the exercise started.”
With established camps, the evaluation portion began in the simulated nation of Swindalli May 27. Using the two camps, Cheatham’s pier, five patrol boats and squadron personnel playing opposing forces, MSRON 2 conducted disaster relief and humanitarian operations in an area struck by a tsunami and plagued by an insurgency. They maintained 24-hour security of entry control points and camp perimeters, a medical clinic and armory, and command and control with a Maritime Operations Center, Tactical Operations Center and two Base Defense Operations Centers.
Evolutions included convoy attacks, local protests and visit, board, search and seizure, among others. Additional training and qualification was facilitated for the squadron’s Embarked Security Teams and Airborne Security Teams.
“The training evolutions that we do in this exercise will flex our entire portfolio of capability,” Hanson said. “When we deploy, we will execute missions that may not include all of our core missions.
“However, it is important we are able to do these things in the event that a contingency operation were to occur, say a natural disaster, like what happened in Haiti a couple of years ago. We sent Sailors to Haiti on 24 hours notice and they performed missions that they had not done on their previous deployment, but since they were trained to do them, they performed them with precision and professionalism.”
ULTRA was the first field exercise for many MSRON 2 Sailors, all of whom lived on the camp they helped to build, maintain, and resupply for the duration of the exercise.
“We have masters-at-arms who have learned how to drive large forklifts. Our operations specialists know how to fire up the generators. All these things are part of being an EXW (expeditionary warfare specialist) warrior,” Clark said.
The team effort didn’t only involve MSRON 2. Camp Dogfish played host to a detachment from Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 3 as they conducted FEP prior to their own deployment. Hanson said this kind of support across the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command portfolio is common, and continuing it helps prepare for the upcoming merger of the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF) and the Riverine Force into the Coastal Riverine Force (CORIVFOR).
“Once we merge, we will redistribute Sailors into companies,” Hanson said. “You will have land-side and water-side Sailors in the same company. Then, for example, my land-side Sailors will perform some of the same missions as my water-side Sailors and vice versa. So this training event is a good opportunity for each of my two elements to observe each other and have a better appreciation when we merge next year.”
Hanson said his Sailors underwent rigorous preparation in the months leading up to ULTRA, including individual combat skills, combat life support, weapons training and hand-to-hand combat, and they performed extensive equipment maintenance.
“I think the performance of the Sailors has been fantastic,” Hanson said. “The preparations for this exercise were really solid and they have performed remarkably well in our first major field exercise of the year.”
With MSRON 2’s CTT passing muster under the scrutiny of MESG 2, the squadron now prepares for its own FEP in June. They will then be qualified to respond for disaster relief operations in time for hurricane season if necessary, and in any event, for their last deployment before joining CORIVFOR.
CORIVFOR forces will be capable of providing tailored force packages to meet unique operational requirements and contingencies such as force protection, disaster relief, protection of vital waterways and establishment of local military superiority in areas of naval operations. They are capable of conducting maritime security while operating from a forward operating base, afloat staging base or disaggregated across geographic combatant commands.