CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (NNS) -- The chiefs and officers of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 completed their Khaki Field Training Exercise (KFTX) Nov. 8, in order to refresh their tactical skills, improve teamwork, and build camaraderie.
"In addition to providing us with a great team building experience, the Khaki FTX was a good opportunity for the senior leaders of the Command to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Wardroom and the Chief's Mess before the upcoming Battalion FTX in January," said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Pope, NMCB 133's executive officer.
The KFTX consisted of one week in class and one week in the field. The classroom portion of the training went over topics such as land navigation, communications, and weapons systems. These topics cover fundamentals that allow Seabees to execute their mission. Land navigation is necessary to relate planned patrol routes, location of defensive positions, and convoy destinations from the maps to the field.
Communication flow is vital to informing the chain of command of the situation outside of the camp lines. The types of communication equipment, how to use them, and how to take care of them were the highlights of this topic.
The weapons systems topic went over heavy machine guns, better known in the Seabees as crew serve weapons, how to place them, and how they are placed in certain locations to provide the most advantageous position against the enemy.
The classroom portion of the KFTX took place in Gulfport, Miss. The first week of this exercise presented challenges for the khaki leadership. The khaki were split into four squads consisting of 12 people broken into three groups of four, known as fire teams. Each squad had a leader and a grenadier who usually assisted the squad leader with communications equipment and the ability to launch grenades while on patrol or manning fighting positions.
The fire teams were constructed so that people of different rates who normally don't work together were forced to do so. The fire teams also had more junior chiefs and officers set as the fire team leaders. This combination was a good mix that allowed all people to get to know those they normally don't work with in the Battalion.
The field week of KFTX displaced almost all khaki in the Battalion, leaving the responsibilities for running the Battalion in the hands of the 1st & 2nd Classes. For most of the khaki leadership, breaking away from the Battalion for a period of two weeks was somewhat difficult due to the Battalion's shortened homeport and condensed schedule.
The purpose of this training exercise was to refresh the leadership's tactical skills, put new khaki in leadership positions, and most importantly, remind leadership what we will be asking of our troops during the upcoming Field Training Exercise (FTX) in January.
Each of the four squads participated in an evolution each day. The four evolutions were patrols, command operations, convoys, and defensive positions.
Patrols consist of a squad planning a route to walk, outside of their defensive lines in order to gather information about the terrain, and enemy location, provide security, and move personnel from one camp to another by foot.
The patrol routes from the camp's point of departure to different check points and back to the camp's entry point were plotted on a map using a magnetic compass. The patrols were equipped with rifles in case they encountered enemy threats. The squads encountered instructors dressed like the enemy who attacked the squads while on patrol, making it a very realistic and exciting training scenario.
The convoy evolution consisted of four vehicles moving out from camp to complete objectives, gather information, providing security, and taking personnel and supplies from one camp to another as a patrol would, but with the use of vehicles. The convoy routes and check points were plotted on the maps as well.
The convoys consisted of four High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle's (HMMWV's) armed with Browning M2 .50-caliber or M-240B 7.62 mm machine guns. A brief was given to convoy members to go over the immediate actions to take place in case they encountered enemy contacts such as the use of weapons and vehicle maneuvering.
Defensive positions were dug and manned to ensure the security lines of the camp were not crossed. This evolution showed each squad how to establish security around a perimeter by digging fighting positions and placing weapons and concertina wire in strategic positions that would corral enemy patrols into the weapon's most deadly line of fire in order to inflict the most damage on the enemy.
The command operations evolution consisted of a squad manning a tent that basically served as a hub of information for the patrols, convoys, fighting positions, and higher command. They kept records and passed information on everything going on inside and outside of the camp. Their job was to ensure information was passed to groups not directly involved with the action to ensure they heightened their awareness in case of another attack. The command operations squad also fulfilled supply and support requests for the other squads so that they could complete their missions.
The instructors from Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport's 20th Seabee Readiness Group taught the classroom portion and assessed the Battalion's performance during the field portion while continuously giving constructive feedback and making recommendations on what needed improvement.
The Battalion's "Tactical Standard Operating Procedures" (TACSOP) manual is a set of step-by-step instructions and guidelines for the Battalion to follow during any situation in order to be successful during war and peace time missions. The Battalion's knowledge of the TACSOP is evaluated during all FTXs.
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb133/.