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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

Navy and Marine Corps Team Conduct Expeditionary Rapid Airfield Damage Repair

by Petty Officer 1st Class Sean P Rinner
23 August 2022 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 and Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 273 with Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 6 conducted an Expeditionary Airfield Damage Repair (ExR-ADR) exercise at Camp Shelby, Miss, July 20 as part of NMCB 1’s field training exercise known as Operation Turning Point. NMCB ONE personnel travelled from Gulfport, Mississippi to Camp Shelby while 17 MWSS personnel travelled from Beaufort, South Carolina. EODMU 6 sent six personnel from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The purpose of this event was to train personnel in ExR-ADR and strengthen integration between fleet and Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) forces. The exercise enabled forces to improve interoperability and build a key capability for major combat operations.

“Our ADR exercise was highly important to our Sailors and the battalion to sharpen and refine our ADR skills and techniques,” stated NMCB 1’s ExR-ADR Assistant Officer in Charge, Chief Equipment Operator Shawn Hinton. “It also allowed us to seamlessly integrate with different units that encompass the air field damage repair spectrum.”

To simulate damage caused by an attack on an airfield, EODMU 6 placed and detonated multiple explosive charges across a specially designed ExR-ADR training area. EODMU 6 also placed dummy artillery shells to represent unexploded ordnance (UXO), enabling the joint unit to train in immediate action drills to neutralize the threat from UXO during expedient repair process.

During an initial site survey of the damage, Seabees, Marines and EOD technicians used their unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to scan the runway. The UAS were able to send a live video feed back to the team which allowed them to map the runway damage and locate the UXO for disposal. Once complete, damage assessment teams (DAT) were sent out to measure the width and depth of the craters and spalls. The DATs identified the required equipment, personnel, and materials to make rapid repairs. (Looks like you stole this from my article, LOL!)

The following day, NMCB 1 and MWSS 273 personnel redeployed on site to repair the airfield back to an operational status, simulating the ability to rapidly repair the runway.

“As the Marine Corps implements force design 2030 and the expeditionary advanced base operations concept, it is vital we maintain interoperability with the Navy,” said Lt. Colt Salsburg, MWSS-273 platoon officer in charge about working on this exercise with NMCB 1. “Here we demonstrated that a combat engineer platoon from MWSS273 can integrate with NMCB 1 to leverage host nation resources to complete any mission and dominate the littoral battle space.”

“This exercise has proven that the Naval Construction Force, Marine Corps, and other NECC forces are capable and ready to operate together while repairing and maintaining key logistical nodes such as airfields,” stated Lt. Cmdr. Robertson, NMCB 1 Operations Officer. “This interoperability bolsters US operational capability in contested environments and enables distributed maritime operations.”

Operation Turning Point is an exercise that focuses on constructing advanced bases while maintaining proficiency in tactics and survivability. NMCB 1 is homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi. They are conducting an intense homeport training plan to expand their ability to execute construction, humanitarian assistance, and theater operations in the combatant command areas of responsibility.