MCAST Trains to Support Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Efforts

Story Number: NNS110607-11Release Date: 6/7/2011 4:02:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (EXW) Matt Daniels, Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) command conducted a Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC) familiarization exercise aboard Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va., May 31 through June 2.

Once the MCAST CMOC has been certified and tested through field exercises and practical applications, the CMOC capability will be deployed worldwide in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts.

MCAST's CMOC concept of operations supports the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) adaptive force package to provide HA/DR by serving as a key facilitator link between the Navy, the host nation's civilian populace, the local government, international organizations (IOs), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

"The CMOC brings military and civilian groups together in a time of disaster and helps us all sing from the same sheet of music," said Capt. Frank Hughlett, MCAST commanding officer.

Hughlett went on to stress the importance of CMOC training by noting the beginning of the hurricane season, June 1, and the inevitable possibility of HA/DR efforts.

MCAST command operates worldwide executing six core capabilities: maritime civil affairs teams (MCATs), maritime civil affairs planners, maritime functional specialists, security force assistance (SFA) teams, civil information management, and with this establishment, the Civil-Military Operations Center capability.

In response to short-notice contingency operations and upon request from host nations, MCAST can deploy its CMOC team within 24 hours to conduct initial assessments and provide immediate recommendations. Within 72-hours, MCAST then deploys an additional five-person team to complete the CMOC staff. The staff will then be joined by MCAT surge teams that serve as roving, subject-matter experts for damage assessments and relief coordination.

MCAST plans to continue training CMOC personnel through July, and maintain the capability year-round.

"This is the first time the command has been able to train for CMOC operations, and you should be proud of your accomplishments so far and be ready to grow further through training," said Cmdr. Hal Okey, MCAST Command training officer.

Hughlett further emphasized this by calling the groundbreaking exercise a license to learn for the CMOC personnel.

"We don't know when it (disaster) will hit, but we have to remain ready to pull chocks and go," said Hughlett. "This step has made our minds aware that there is more out there to learn and prepare for."

The concept of a CMOC is only new to the Navy, as it has been conducted by Army Civil Affairs Teams in the past, and internationally conducted by NATO forces. MCAST however, has taken civil affairs to the coast and identified the need for civil affairs and a CMOC capability that has expertise in the maritime environment.

Joint Publication 3-57 defines the CMOC as a mechanism for the coordination of civil military operations (CMO) that can serve as the primary coordination interface, providing operational and tactical level coordination between joint task force (JTF) commanders and other stakeholders.

Members of a CMOC may include representatives of U.S. military forces, other government agencies (OGAs), local populations and institutions, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), the private sector and non-governmental organizations. The organization of the CMOC is always theater and mission-dependent with little emphasis on an establishment or physical entity.

The CMOC is, conceptually, a meeting place for collaboration and interaction with the objective of accomplishing a similar goal.

The recent relief operations in Haiti have emphasized the need for the Navy's expeditionary CMOC capability. The MCAST delivered CMOC is readily deployable and fully capable of providing on-the-ground coordination for relief and assistance in coordination with the Navy's maritime strategy.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class Jeffrey O'Dell, who deployed to Chile in 2010 to support HA/DR operations, emphasized the need for the CMOC capability and the importance of scenario-based training exercises.

"MCAST's CMOC will provide an established, base of knowledge ready to react to that unknown event, whenever and wherever it may occur," said O'Dell. "The best advantage in that type of situation is experience, and if we continue to train and remain flexible we will be ready."

MCAST Command was formed in 2009, from the merger of the former Maritime Civil Affairs Group and Expeditionary Training Command, under the guidance of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and is homeported on board Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va.

For more information about MCAST Command, visit

For more news from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, visit

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