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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

325th Fighter Wing Hosts NMCB 11 for Field Training Exercise

by Senior Airman Tiffany Del Oso
05 September 2023 TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. –

The 325th Fighter Wing is host to more than 15 tenant units, each operating their own mission sets at Tyndall Air Force Base. One such unit is the 801st Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers Training Squadron, whose primary mission is developing and delivering integrated realistic training and exercises for combat support teams.

From Aug. 7-10, the 801st RHST hosted Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi, during a pre-deployment mission qualification exercise at the Silver Flag exercise site where they conducted 24-hour Rapid Airfield Damage Repair.

Silver Flag, the largest readiness event executed by the 801st RHTS on a 1,200 acre training platform, prepares teams to establish, operate and recover an airbase during Agile Combat Support training exercises by utilizing a mock runway that few other installations have available.

“We are always looking for good places to be able to practice [RADR],” said U.S. Navy Lt. Corey Hauptman, Naval Construction Group Two, officer in charge of tactics and construction training. “Gulfport, where we’re located at, doesn’t have an airfield associated with it because it’s a construction base, so it doesn’t have the same capabilities as Tyndall.”

Joint Force operations are no stranger to the 325th FW. Navy and Marine Corps units across the DoD participate in Weapons System Evaluation Programs multiple times a year, however, Seabees, the Navy’s combat engineers, are a rare sight on the “Installation of the Future.”

“Joint exercises are not common for the 801st RHTS,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Douglas Dees, 801st RHTS noncommissioned officer in charge of pavements and equipment contingency training. “Working with the Navy is a unique situation in which techniques and procedures can be discussed and utilized for the improvement on both the Navy and Air Force concepts.”
Interoperability between Joint Force partners is essential to modern warfare because, as Hauptman explained, the potential future fight is not going to be focused on one specific branch of service.

“We’re [always] looking for any opportunity to be able to connect up with our partner forces, branches and even our partner engineering units,” said Hauptman. “We can learn from each other and make ourselves and the force better as well as the products that we deliver.”

During the exercise, NMCB 11 faced a simulated attack on the airfield. They were evaluated on their ability to assess and repair the damage quickly and efficiently.

Instead of spending valuable time fixing the entire damaged area, Seabees are taught to strategically assess the damage so they can return the airfield to an operational state as soon as possible. Depending on what aircraft is trying to land, the damage assessment team determines a minimal operating strip to accommodate that particular aircraft.

Hauptman explained, after the operating strip is determined, teams begin a process of cutting through the concrete, excavating all the damaged material, and clearing and compacting a base so they can clear fragmented stone and fill craters.

These joint training opportunities encourage interoperability across the DoD and bolsters the ability to provide agile combat support any time, any place. The 801st RHTS is dedicated to delivering pre-deployment training, which produces contingency and expeditionary skillsets intended to maintain mission readiness across the DoD.

As part of their pre-deployment training cycle, the NMCB 11 Seabees must receive qualifications such as RADR every 18 months to maintain readiness in support of worldwide contingency operations.

“After this, they will be certified as the ready battalion … ready to deploy,” said Hauptman.