Navy Expeditionary Forces Secure the Operating Environment Across the Competition Continuum
12 April 2021
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --
Hidden under the cover of darkness or operating in plain sight, your Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command (NEIC) Intelligence Exploitation Teams (IETs) and Expeditionary Exploitation Unit 1 (EXU-1) Sailors operate at the tactical edge of expeditionary missions. From their forward position, these small teams develop and deliver the battlespace awareness necessary to SECURE critical maritime terrain and enable operational advantage. IETs maintain a persistent presence around the globe, conducting critical collection operations that enable understanding, reduce uncertainty, and deliver decision advantage to Fleet and Joint Commanders. IETs collect intelligence, develop, and refine Intelligence Preparation of the Operating Environment (IPOE), and conduct tactical Indications and Warning (I&W) assessments that deliver warfighting advantage in complex and competitive environments. Likewise, the agile and responsive EXU detachments provide unique, tactical-level adversary weapons exploitation and analysis that feeds force protection, decision-making, and gleans otherwise-unavailable critical intelligence.
During the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), IETs conducted combat operations at sea and on land to meet requirements in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and all across the Arabian Gulf. IET collection efforts saved the lives of U.S. service members, foreign service employees, and foreign government officials. IET actions also contributed to disrupting terrorist and insurgent networks in Iraq and Afghanistan; halting improvised explosive device attacks on land and along rivers and coastal waterways; seizing narcotics and weapons linked to international terrorist organizations; facilitating kinetic strikes on adversaries; and performing sensitive collections that led to the apprehension of high priority targets.
Likewise, the Navy’s Expeditionary Exploitation capabilities grew out of tactical necessity over the course of two decades of combat. First established as a detachment in 2006 under what is now known as the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (EODTECHDIV) and elevated to an Echelon V command in 2017, EXU-1 conducts tactical and operational expeditionary missions including mine countermeasure operations, surface and underwater post-blast investigations, special operations forces targeting, electronic engineering and forensic exploitation, advanced radiography and ordnance disassembly, and technical intelligence reach-back functions in the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AORs) to “Defeat the Device, Attack the Network, and Train the Force,” as EXU-1’s motto says.
The 2021 Chief of Naval Operations’ Navigation Plan stresses the need for a flexible Naval Force that competes and wins in a contested maritime. The Navy Expeditionary Combat Force (NECF) answers that call with scalable units that can CLEAR, SECURE, BUILD, and PROTECT in order to enable the access, sustainment, and response necessary to keep the fight forward. As a key component of NECF, IETs and EXU detachments today deploy as dynamic, responsive, and agile units that collect otherwise-unavailable critical information and deliver the understanding, insight, and awareness necessary to compete, fight, and win in today’s complex operating environment. These small but mighty teams SECURE the battlespace and enable our nation to employ the Integrated American Naval Forces required to dominate in the littorals and reinforce maritime lethality, in support of Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO).
Today’s EXU-1 detachments are not just a one-of-a-kind command within the Navy, but within the entirety of the Department of Defense; they are a unique, tactical-level military capability that can collect, process, exploit and analyze improvised and conventional weapons, ordnance, and components – on land and at sea – to provide near-real-time technical intelligence to tactical commanders, the EOD community, service components, DoD, national-level intelligence agencies, and allied and partner nations. They fill a critical capability gap, especially in the expeditionary domain, that provides keen insight and understanding to drive operations forward through increased awareness of threat capabilities and vulnerabilities.
IETs exploit vulnerabilities, generate understanding of the operating environment, and discern adversary intent in a way that gives Navy and Joint Force Commanders a comprehensive view of the battlespace while also providing experts with the data required to better understand the technical aspects of the adversary. Left of the kill chain, in contact layers, Commanders can count on IETs to conduct global operations to secure the battlespace by targeting adversary vulnerabilities within the electromagnetic spectrum, conducting HUMINT operations across the spectrum of sources and methods, and employing counterintelligence expertise that keeps our Navy and Joint Force safe from malign actors. Additionally, IETs identify and secure vulnerabilities in Navy critical infrastructure, enabling the Fleet to sustain competitive advantage and prevent adversary exploitation.
If tensions escalate, IETs will work with the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF) to provide critical battlespace awareness as well as Force Protection (FP) and Indications and Warnings (I&W) through expeditionary collection operations, enhancing security and protection for Fleet and Joint assets. IETs will also increase integration with Joint and Coalition forces, securing freedom of movement throughout the battlespace by enhancing own-force security and survivability. NECF will also incorporate and use mesh networks for weapons systems to extend Joint network ranges and capabilities in areas where Satellite support is unavailable or in Satellite-denied environments. Providing core Navy and Joint Force capabilities, NECF will ensure Fleet Commanders have the detailed information necessary to secure the operating environment, protect the force, safeguard intellectual capital, and, if necessary, target hostile platforms and entities.
In the fight ahead, the Navy and the nation will need dedicated, capable, and agile Expeditionary Forces forward in the fight to secure victory by delivering an understanding of the operational environment and the adversary. NECC Sailors fill this need every day, around the globe, ensuring that Fleet and Joint forces have the battlespace awareness necessary to fight and win, wherever, whenever, and however required. Complex, volatile, and uncertain operating environments call for unparalleled flexibility and adaptability. NECF brings the required attitude and aptitude to SECURE the operating environment in order to get the Fleet in the fight by dominating in the littorals and reinforcing maritime lethality.