By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Derrick M. Ingle, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The commander of Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command (MCAST) and the executive assistant to Commander, 1st Naval Construction Division (1NCD) addressed their respective commands' commitment to global partnerships and humanitarian assistance during a media roundtable Aug. 3.
"MCAST is a new command under Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) as of October 2009," said Capt. Claudia Risner, MCAST commander. "We man, train and equip teams to deploy six months at a time to work with partner nations to help improve their maritime security and to build stability in the host nation. We're currently working in support of areas of influence under U.S. Africa Command, Southern Command and Pacific Command."
"Our security force assistance teams, which are comprised of trained professional instructors, are additionally sent down range for two to four weeks to train partner nation militaries in small boat operations, weapons handling and other skills needed to protect themselves," said Risner.
The Navy Seabees, who use their construction efforts to help allied countries and disadvantaged people around the world, coordinate with MCAST.
"We're working closely with MCAST and the commandant commands off the Horn of Africa, drilling wells throughout Ethiopia, renovating a school in Bulgaria and building an urgent care facility in Montenegro," said Capt. Joe Grealish, executive assistant to Commander, 1NCD. "We also have a unit in Haiti right now providing humanitarian assistance followed by another Haiti project called 'New Horizons,' where we'll improve water wells and help renovate a school."
From maritime strategies to disaster relief operations, both MCAST and the Seabees view their measure of effectiveness not by their product or service, but by the relationships built and the Navy's lasting impression on a host nation.
"Our objective is access, information and influence," said Risner. "We're there working on the ground with the locals gaining access and information on key leaders and are finally able to influence them to emulate the type of behavior needed for worldwide maritime security. The key is to keep coming back periodically, six months at a time, ensuring things are on course and maintaining that partnership. We're going to be here for the long haul."
"The focus is winning the peace and developing partner nation capacity," said Grealish. "We'll continue to help other navy(s) police their borders and develop their maritime strategy domains, making their areas more stable and secure and increasing our chances of peace as well as improving our skills in case there is conflict."
NECC forces, such as those of MCAST and 1NCD, are globally distributed and mission-tailored to provide persistent engagement prior to disasters, and lessen human suffering during times of crisis.