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NMCB-5 Simultaneously Completes COMMEX, MOX

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Stephane Belcher, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 Public Affairs | Dec. 21, 2019

OKINAWA, Japan -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 successfully completed a Major Combat Operations Readiness Exercise, consisting of a 48-hour Mount-Out Exercise (MOX) and Communication Exercise (COMMEX) on board Camp Shields, Okinawa, Dec. 20.

Combining COMMEX and MOX demonstrates the battalion’s ability to rapidly deploy and operate strategic and tactical systems in an operational environment.

COMMEX asses the battalion’s ability to use communications equipment and effectively operate command and control; and MOX tests the battalion’s ability to deploy an 89 personnel Air Detachment (Air Det) and 35-45 pieces of Civil Engineer Support Equipment (CESE) within 48-hours to support major combat operations (MCO) or humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HA/DR).

The embarkation of 89 personnel is only a small portion of the unit. Depending on the nature of the real world scenario, the rest of the Battalion would potentially prepare to deploy and join the Air Det forward once conditions had been set.

“We have to be ready at all times, that’s why we do MOX,” said Builder 2nd Class Patrick McDermott, a certified hazardous material preparer. “We do our exercise to make sure we are still up to par, because at a moment’s notice—because we are the forward deployed battalion—if something happens we would need to mount up and ship out.”

For the duration of the exercise McDermott is responsible for ensuring his fellow Seabees package hazardous materials correctly, and that they are compliant with the U.S. Air Force’s regulations prior to loading onto the aircraft.

There are many moving parts that go into simultaneously completing the exercises. The 89 Air Det Seabees will need to be fully administrative and medically ready while maintaining command and control of their detail.

For this training scenario, military tents were set up with portable electricity, radios and antennas were programmed for secure communication traffic, and equipment operators and construction mechanics inspected the CESE on the list to make sure all the equipment was operational, with the correct parts, and up-to-date on all maintenance to start the embarkation process. The process consisted of the equipment getting needed repairs, thoroughly cleaned, and then weighed and measured in order to transport via aircraft.

Equipment Operator 1st Class Elias Biermann is the transportation supervisor for the evolution. He is in charge of the Alfa Company Seabees through their embarkation process of getting personal military gear together and going through the armory. In a real scenario, he would ship out with the 89 personnel to plan all the movements and make sure the CESE is running.

“This is good practice, to be ready to competently push out in real life,” said Biermann. “If any natural disaster occurred, we would need to react. We would need to get out there as quickly as possible and assist the locals, and help them out in any way we can.”

NMCB-5’s Seabees constantly aim to have mission-ready engineering units capable of executing MCO and HA/DR missions, and are passionate about serving those in need.

“When someone calls for help and you’re able to respond at a moment’s notice, it’s just a really good feeling I guess,” said McDermott. “To be that person who is needed to fill the mission, that’s probably one of the greatest things ever.”

NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection. The battalion stands ready to support HA/DR and MCO throughout the region.