WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (NNS) -- The pilot field exercise "Colonial Outlook" tested the readiness of two previously non-evaluated capabilities of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) June 14 at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Cheatham Annex in Williamsburg, Va.
The exercise established an evaluation of the readiness of Navy Supply Support Battalions (NSSB) and the Navy Ordnance Reporting and Handling Battalion (NORHB) by NAVELSG.
Navy Cargo Handling Battalions (NCHB) are evaluated every four years; however, Navy Ordnance Reporting and Handling Battalion 1, which came under NAVELSG in October 2005, and Navy Supply Support Battalions, were not previously evaluated for readiness by headquarters, said Lt. Cmdr. Ed Smith, NAVELSG deputy training officer.
"In the past, we have not tested the capabilities of our NSSBs, only the NCHBs. When we gained the NORHB into our chain of command, we felt it was the opportune time to develop a combined exercise that tested the capabilities of both the NORHB and the NSSBs," Smith said.
NSSBs, which became commissioned Reserve units about six years ago, are comprised of a variety of services, such as warehouse and freight terminal support, mobile mail support, supply logistics information support and personnel support and services, to include administrative, barbershop, laundry, and ship's store.
Colonial Outlook brought together 170 personnel from nine battalions under one unified command, incorporated multiple NAVELSG capabilities, operated cargo handling features of USNS Cape Johnson (T-AK 5075) at the Cheatham Annex pier, and established communications, tent camp, an ammunition supply point, a marshalling yard as well as command and control.
NAVELSG's active-duty cargo handling battalion, NCHB 1, which is tasked with training NAVELSG's Reserve battalions, was heavily involved in the planning and executing the pilot field exercise.
Lt. Nathan Johnston, NCHB 1 training officer, said detailed planning for this exercise started in February.
"The graded exercise included a cumulative 96 hours of operations injected with issues dealing with personnel, administrative and equipment challenges into the scenarios - both actual and simulated," Johnston said.
The exercise wrapped up with several notable successes, Smith said.
"Clearly, the most noted success was the integration of the three different types of battalions into one single command, which seamlessly operated three different platforms with different cargo," Smith said.
"One of the side benefits that arose from the exercise was that several experienced personnel were able to see what their counterparts did in other battalions," Smith said. "For example, several cargo handlers were able to see for the first time the ordnance handlers working and vice-versa. This opened up opportunities for future cross training between the battalions, which further increases readiness."
There are plans for two combined field exercises next year, Smith said.
"We will use the Colonial Outlook template to validate the readiness of cargo battalions and support companies that are expected to eventually deploy," Smith said.
Colonial Outlook 2006 is the initial test run, and it will be refined and developed over the next several years, Smith said.
"We are currently building a plan that will test an entire NSSB over a four-year period," he said. "This may change as we further develop our training and readiness plan to NECC specifications."
Colonial Outlook also contributes to the success of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command's mission, Smith said.
"This exercise brings us closer to being in line with the other NECC units' readiness plans. Eventually, we hope to have the ability to align our evaluation with other NECC commands and possibly develop a complex evaluation scenario for several NECC components. Plus, it is the prototype for the evaluation of the future and lets us know our units are ready for NECC's missions," Smith said.
In January, the Navy created the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, bringing Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Naval Coastal Warfare, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support functions and the Seabees under one chain of command. NECC integrates all warfighting requirements for expeditionary combat and combat support elements. This transformation allows for standardized training, manning and equipping of Sailors who will participate in the global war on terrorism as part of the joint force. It also results in more capable, responsive and effective expeditionary Sailors.
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