We continue our coverage of Operation Bold Alligator 2012, the largest amphibious assault exercise in a decade. Currently taking place off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, this story picks up where the first left off as Port Security Unit 308 begins their deployment.
Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anderson, Deployable Operations Group.
Loaded with more than 40 tons of personnel and equipment, the Air Force C-5M Galaxy flew east over the Appalachian Mountains to Cherry Point, N.C. There, at the end of a five-state, 888-mile flight, Port Security Unit 308 personnel unloaded their equipment and boats. They then convoyed to Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C.
“The advanced party began by setting up the tactical operations center and the secure communications a few days before the main body arrived,” said Chief Petty Officer Jack Wilson, a maritime enforcement specialist with PSU 308’s security division. “We put in place the infrastructure to support the incoming personnel.”
This included building Quonset huts, all-purpose, lightweight metal buildings that could be shipped and assembled on site for berthing. They also coordinated ground transportation and received storage containers including a portable armory that the Navy Seabees constructed a shelter around to protect the 24-hour watch.
Once at the forward operating base, security division personnel explored the surrounding area around the newly constructed outpost ensuring the unit could defend the position. Then, they quickly constructed an entry control point that included a watch tent, a screening area, concertina wire and security barricades.
An entry control point is a location where pedestrian and vehicle traffic must pass through a gate system to gain entry to a secure area. Security division members manage this critical area and are trained how to react to a number of situations, including normal pedestrian traffic, threats and violence.
“The entry control point is the first line of defense between the people of the surrounding areas and our base of operations,” Wilson said. “Standing a taut watch at the front gate is important to the base’s security. It can often be repetitious, but you can’t relax your guard. That’s when enemies can strike.”
While security division was constructing the forward operating base, boat division, began working with local Coast Guard units including Stations Fort Macon and Emerald Isle.
Both stations opened their doors and provided a base for their fellow Coast Guardsmen to conduct operations from. The stations provided boat ramps, pier space, briefing rooms and engineering bays to conduct maintenance and repairs. Station coxswains also provided area familiarization briefs to PSU boat crews.
Once the boats were splashed – or in the water, PSU boat crews were underway with the stations coxswains to put eyes on local aids to navigations, geography and hazards.
“Station Fort Macon and Station Emerald Isle went out of their way to assist the PSUs for this exercise,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Bannon, one of the training team members for the exercise. “They were true shipmates and set our boat crews up for success.”
With the forward operating base and entry control point constructed and boats in the water, PSU personnel are ready to conduct their mission: Provide security to high value assets, the local waterways and if necessary defend Forward Operating Base Gallant.
Check back with Compass next week for more on Operation Bold Alligator 2012.