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New course to train sailors in ground combat skills.

LITTLE CREEK, Va. -- The Navy is planning to introduce a new training course designed to teach sailors how to fight on the ground.

The expeditionary combat skills course will be an eight-week course required of all 40,000 sailors who are assigned to the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command. It will focus on four aspects of ground warfare: moving, shooting, communicating and administering first aid, says Capt. Robert McKenna, assistant chief of staff for training at NECC.

"Sailors know how to survive on a ship. They know how to survive in an airplane. But most of them have never been in a situation where they're on the ground, maybe having to fight for their life," he says. "Our goal is to give them a basic level of training so that they can survive."

For most sailors, the only combat skills training they ever receive is standing on the flight deck of a ship as it's steaming over the horizon, shooting a 9 mm gun, he says.

Some ground units, such as the explosive ordnance disposal teams and the naval construction force, already have their own basic combat training courses. The expeditionary combat skills course will standardize that training across the force.

Initial plans indicate there may be two locations for the course, one on each U.S. coast. The Navy also is looking at Army and Marine Corps bases as options.

Because of budget constraints, the course will be phased in over several years. McKenna says the goal is to have all NECC sailors going through the course by 2010 or 2011.

A pilot course could come online next month, in time for the sailors in Riverine Squadron Three to participate.

NECC's initiative makes sense, says Lt. Cmdr. Mike Egan, executive officer of Riverine Squadron One, which is deployed to Western Iraq. While the bulk of the unit's training came from the Marines at Camp LeJeune, its maritime interdiction operations team received some training from instructors at NECC.--GRACE JEAN
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Comment:New course to train sailors in ground combat skills.
Author:Jean, Grace
Publication:National Defense
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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