News: JECC participates in the world’s largest international maritime exercise for the first time
Story by Whitney Katz
NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. – From June 26 – Aug. 1, members of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command’s (JECC) Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE) and Joint Public Affairs Support Element (JPASE) participated in U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014, a multinational maritime exercise held every two years in and around the Hawaiian Islands. This was the 24th iteration of RIMPAC, which initially began in 1971, but the first time that the JECC participated.
Twenty-three nations, 47 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC 2014, which provided an opportunity to foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. The overall goal of the RIMPAC series of exercises was to demonstrate the inherent flexibility of the world’s maritime forces, with capabilities ranging from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting.
Two members of JCSE’s U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) Deployable Joint Command and Control (DJC2) detachment team were requested to participate in this year’s exercise to bring unique communications capabilities to forces operating from the USS Peleliu (LHA-5). JCSE maintains detachment teams at four of the six geographic combatant commands (GCC), including USPACOM, who are dedicated to maintaining and employing the GCC’s respective DJC2 systems; a complete communications package, including tents and generators that can support a small scale JTF staff of up to 60 users. For exercises where the full DJC2 system is not needed; smaller, modular components of the DJC2 can be broken out and employed to provide the necessary communications capabilities required to support participants.
For RIMPAC 2014 in particular, JCSE employed a Rapid Response Kit (RRK), a highly mobile, stand-alone command and control capability that supports up to 15 users at one time with secure and non-secure voice and data services. While embarked on the USS Peleliu, JCSE was responsible for providing on-ship and ship-to-shore communications for more than 275 personnel including members of the 3rd Marine Regiment.
“We extended services on the network by allowing the 3rd Marine Regiment to access several key websites that the ship's network could not provide,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Grove, the USPACOM DJC2 detachment officer-in-charge. “This enabled them to access and easily share files with each other which allowed decisions to be made quickly contributing to the overall success of various ground maneuvers.”
JCSE also had the opportunity to support forces from various coalition nations including Japan, Canada, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia and Chile. This unique training environment allowed JCSE members to further enhance their knowledge of interoperability with likely mission partners.
“We now have a better understanding of how coalition personnel come together to accomplish their tasks and how other units will want the communications networks laid out,” Grove explained. “After participating in RIMPAC, JCSE will now be more efficient in providing the communication services needed for U.S. and international service members to track and strategically plan their operations in tandem.”
Three JPASE members also participated in RIMPAC ashore at the Pacific Warfighting Center, Ford Island, Hawaii to provide joint public affairs (JPA) expertise in both the training audience and the training support environment. One JPASE member served as a public affairs officer (PAO) under the Commander of Combined Task Force (CCTF) for the exercise, one JPASE member served as the PAO for the exercise’s Combined Force Maritime Component Commander and one member played multiple roles in the exercise’s white cell.
JPASE members who participated in the training audience had an opportunity to improve their JPA skill sets while collaborating with U.S., Australian, Canadian, and Chilean counterparts. Throughout the exercise, these JPASE members were responsible for standard public affairs tasks including development of public affairs guidance, communications strategies and themes and messages. However, due to their extensive operational experience, they were able to recommend and introduce a few best practices to enhance the execution of the exercise.
“One of the things we proposed and established was a communication synchronization working group, which brought together members from across the staff to share products on a daily basis,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Karl Lettow, the JPASE member who served under the CCTF during RIMPAC. “This concept was new to most people; however, it proved to be a valuable tool to coordinate efforts before presenting recommendations to leadership.”
Additionally, by working closely with multinational partners, JPASE members were not only exposed to alternate perspectives on public affairs execution, but they had an opportunity to share their standard practices with a diverse audience, both of which will be an added benefit in future exercises or real-world operations.
“RIMPAC gave us a chance to practice our skills in an environment with a high level of collaboration,” Lettow said. “When we do engage with these partners again, there will be an added familiarity and we will be able to better assimilate our individual models of public affairs.”
RIMPAC’s uniquely complex and challenging multinational environment provided a realistic, relevant training opportunity for JECC members to hone their skills and provide their joint expertise in a complex maritime operation. Ultimately, JCSE and JPASE members enhanced their individual proficiencies, sharpened their skill sets and learned to adapt to changing conditions as part of a joint or combined force.
This work, JECC participates in the world’s largest international maritime exercise for the first time, by Whitney Katz, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.