Several units of the recently established Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) and Naval Beach Group 2 are participating in the combined DELMAR/Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) exercise on Fort Story, Virginia Beach, Va., in June.
The exercise began June 5 and combines active-duty and reserve service members from various Navy and Army commands. The exercise is organized by U.S. Army Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC).
During the exercise scenario, these units must work together to provide humanitarian assistance to an area simulated as devastated by a natural disaster. These same skills could be employed if a massive terrorist attack disrupts existing port facilities.
"This is like a mission of presence," said Cmdr. Robert Bruce, Tactical Operations Center watch officer. "We hope and pray that all we have to do is just be here, but we are well prepared and trained just in case a terrorist act occurs."
This event brings together about 1,300 multi-service, multi-agency partners, training jointly – just the way they fight. Military leaders say that logistics is an increasingly joint task, so training events like this will allow forces to learn from each other and to identify and solve issues in an exercise environment before they ever have to face those issues in an operational environment.
Capt. Doug Keiler, commander of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2, heads up all the Navy units taking part in the exercise.
"[NBG 2 units] are to support all Expeditionary Strike Groups and safely exercise all components for commands' mission areas in supporting [Maritime Prepositioning Force] offloads," said Keiler.
This marks the first time since the establishment of NECC that its forces have exercised together to support joint commanders under one command and control element – just as they would have to do in a real-world situation.
Bruce said the joint forces are always pushing the "envelope of technology," and interoperability. Knowing how the other services and commands operate in the field is best learned "hands on," he said.
Throughout the exercise NECC commands provide seaward and landward force protection and logistical support for these units. This allows them the opportunity to exercise their ability to provide seamless security when multiple agencies are involved.
Among the NECC commands participating are Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 4; NCWRON 25; Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 41; Inshore Boat Unit 42; Maritime Security Squadron 6; Underwater Construction Teams 1 and 2 and Naval Cargo Handling Battalions 1 and 14.
Rear Adm. Don Bullard, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, said NECC realigns current Navy expeditionary forces into a structure that increases capacity for GWOT missions, improves war-fighting effectiveness and captures efficiencies in common synergies. In addition, the command redistributes current forces throughout the Navy to better contribute to the global war on terrorism and to temporarily relieve stress on Marine Corps and Army missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, he said, it recognizes where the Navy must expand current expeditionary capabilities and develop new ones for the long war.
"This is about the Navy being adaptable in any environment and providing a skill set for use in fighting a war, or rebuilding after a natural catastrophe." said Bullard. "It's about the Navy transforming
and organizing better. [NECC] will also focus on developing a traditional way of training other countries."
Exercise leaders believe DELMAR/JLOTS is integral to the nation’s readiness and the military's force projection capability. This exercise has application across the full spectrum of military operations, from humanitarian assistance to war. Specifically, it enables delivery of force opening packages as well as sustainment forces and supplies anywhere in the world; allows access even when ports are damaged, degraded or denied; and augments traditional port operations by providing additional throughput capacity.
Logistics over-the-shore operations have most recently been used in Operation Iraqi Freedom to increase port throughput
in Kuwait and to support tsunami relief in Indonesia.
By Journalist 2nd Class Maja A. Dyson, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic