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NECC: consolidation of forces.

For the past year, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) has been growing and reshaping the Navy's mission ashore. It's goal, one-stop shopping for combatant commanders requiring additional combat support forces, or expertise in areas unique to Navy.

According to RADM Donald Bullard, Commander NECC, integrating long-standing communities and creating entirely new commands while providing direct combat support at a high operational deployment tempo has been challenging.

The forces brought together under NECC better represent the commands and provide a central point for command and control. As of today, it consists of Naval Coastal Warfare, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Group, Naval Construction Force, Riverine Force, Maritime Civil Affairs Group (MCAG), Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center and Combat Camera.

"We had to give these Sailors a voice," said Bullard. "By bringing them all together we have been able to consolidate and coordinate their abilities and can better employ these forces."

With the current operational tempo and the Navy's evolving role in the global war on terrorism, it has become evident that the Navy can and will provide more assistance to the other services with their heavy deployment schedules. Some Army and Marine Corps units have deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom at twice their normal deployment schedule.

"We are working to take the burden off them and help shoulder the load," said Bullard. "We aren't trying to take anything away from the other services."

The current operational tempo has required the Navy to become more involved in the efforts on the ground. In Africa, the Navy has taken operational command of Combined Task Force Horn of Africa, requiring the Navy to work outside what the public perceives as their traditional operating area.

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But it isn't just the new requirements that have brought about the creation of NECC. These camouflaged Sailors were all serving in separate commands, with many similar assignments but without a common foundation in operational techniques or in the equipment they use to complete their mission.

Much of their table of allowance (TOA) varied significantly from one command to the next. Now that they have been organized under a single parent command these components are building a core curriculum along with an updated TOA to ensure each member of the NECC is as well-trained and well-equipped as possible.

"Being in an oversight position, we have been able to ensure our Sailors have the right equipment and training to be able to complete their mission," added Bullard.

Combat support is not the only calling of the NECC. Today the United States is more proactive in areas of the world that could become havens for terrorists and is currently building relationships and creating allies with these nations by "waging peace" around the world. This allows foreign governments the opportunity to see firsthand that America cares about their well-being and wants to help them build a brighter future for themselves and their children.

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Sailors currently serving in the Horn of Africa and other areas around the world are building schools, drilling wells for fresh water and showing the people of these areas that they are there to help.

For many years the United States has sent the military to nations in need of humanitarian assistance or rebuilt them after a conflict. The Navy's role in these efforts was usually limited to transporting supplies and equipment to the affected nation and deploying a detachment from a Seabee battalion for immediate relief efforts and rebuilding the infrastructure.

Now, NECC is taking a more direct route with the MCAG. Made up of two squadrons, MCAG will work directly with civilian governments within a combatant commander's maritime area of operations in order to improve that countries infrastructure.

Sailors assigned to these units will have a huge impact on relations, not only with the governments of these nations, but as seen after the humanitarian relief efforts in Tsunami ravaged Indonesia and the earthquake in Pakistan, with the general population's overall opinion of America.

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Johnson is a photojournalist assigned to Naval Media Center, Washington, D.C.

Story by MC1(SCW) Jess M. Johnson

Another aspect of the NECC is the new career path that has opened for Sailors who want to play a more direct role in the global war on terror. Sailors who want to be at the very tip of the spear, but aren't assigned to what were the traditional ground combat components of the Navy, can find opportunities to serve within the many components of the NECC. For more information contact your command career counselor.
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Title Annotation:Navy Expeditionary Combat Command
Author:Johnson, Jess M.
Publication:All Hands
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Words:763
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