NORFOLK, Va. -- Units from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command have completed training toward certification for deployment thanks to their successful completion of a week-long exercise centered in Yorktown, Va., that wrapped up Dec. 9.
Maritime Security Squadron 4 and Riverine Squadron 1 completed challenging exercises for more than a month for this final step. Each exercise was tailor-made by Expeditionary Training Group to simulate the real-world operating environments that expeditionary units potentially face while deployed.
This final exercise, an NECC Integrated Exercise, was held at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex and Ft. Eustis. The NIEX was a series of threats which Americans would face in a country which had just had major combat and was now trying to restore normalcy.
“The exercise simulates partnering with a host nation, helping them build their security for cargo handling, port security and protecting waterways,” said Capt. Mike Napolitano, commanding officer of ETG. “When NECC deploys to a coastal region, we normally establish a forward operating base for our headquarters. One set of skills expeditionary combat forces bring to the Navy’s mission is to create security cooperation. We go to our partner nation, and help train their forces so that they can provide security for themselves.”
During the exercise MSRON 4 and RIVRON1 provided protection both on land and water. Simulated “terrorists” tried to attack from small boats and jet skis, as well as using small arms and IEDs.
“I’m very happy that ETG is doing these kinds of drills, because these are the kinds of things that we are going to see when we go down range,” said Lt. j.g. Harold Saintcloud, Anti-Terrorism Officer for MSRON 4. “We have to expect the unexpected down range. Most of the guys at ETG have been there, and they know what scenarios will best prepare us for our deployment.”
During this exercise, ETG planned scenarios with escalating tensions in the host nation and growing threats to Sailors. On the final day of the exercise, Sailors faced a series of attacks on the FOB, starting with sniper and IED attacks, ending in an all-out assault by local militia.
“A lot of these scenarios are based on real events,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Raccshi Wilson, a training team assessor with Maritime Expeditionary Security Group 2. “Some of the things they may deal with on a daily basis are covered here, whether its people taking out the trash or coming in to fix a generator, the likelihood of them seeing potential threats here in the training scenario prepares them to see actual threats when they deploy. The small number of Sailors that stand the watch at the FOB Entry Control Point are responsible for protecting the two to three hundred personnel inside the compound.”
The final confrontation was hectic and fast paced, combining attacks from all sides of the FOB with simulated IED explosions and constant gunfire. The chaos of that final hour presented an challenge for training participants.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Gonzalez of MSRON 4. “It was a good training environment, and we all learned a lot. You have to keep the area that you’re protecting, but not lose focus on what’s going on around you.”
RIVRON 1 is a combat-arms force that performs point defense, fire support and interdiction operations along inland water ways to defeat enemies and support U.S. Marines and coalition forces. MSRON 4 provides rapidly deployable forces to conduct or support anti-terrorism and force protection missions for U.S. and allied nations in ports and canals around the world.