A Maritime Operation Center, or MOC, can come in many different forms, because what matters is the processes and planning taking place within them.
The MOC process was created by the Navy to improve planning and execution at the operational level of war, and the expeditionary MOC takes that capability out of the traditional environment of the headquarters and puts it forward – into theater – to be closer to the point of need. This has become a core competency of the U.S. 2nd Fleet team.
During Large Scale Exercise 21, taking place from Aug. 3-16, 2nd Fleet is executing its 7th expeditionary MOC since its reestablishment in 2018. As part of the CNO's design for maintaining maritime superiority, 2nd Fleet was tasked to be expeditionary – whether from a maritime platform or an austere location.
2nd Fleet has stood up expeditionary MOCs all over the continental U.S. in Tampa, Florida and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to locations far forward into the Atlantic theater, such as Keflavik, Iceland and onboard the U.S. Navy command and control ship USS Mount Whitney, homeported in Europe.
For LSE 21, the expeditionary MOC was placed at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. Over the course of the exercise, the team has worked through sweltering hot and humid Virginia days, with bouts of torrential rainfall, creating at times mud bubbling up through the floorboards within "the tent." But these are the characteristics of an expeditionary capability and an able staff who came to withstand the elements, while fighting through a crisis scenario.
“This training takes Marines and Sailors out of garrison mode and immerses us into a war time scenario,” said Col. Robert Clark of the U.S. Marine Corps, the director and 2nd Fleet staff officer, who is overall in charge of operations within the expeditionary MOC for LSE21. "It also gives us a great opportunity to integrate and train with our reserve colleagues.”
More than 50 personnel from U.S. 2nd Fleet staff and navy reserve force comprise the team located at the expeditionary MOC site. The team assembled at the expeditionary MOC is executing the mission, while maintaining reach back capability to the Fleet’s Maritime Headquarters, where continued operational planning takes place.
The operational infrastructure used came from the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). The tent was outfitted with critical communications equipment necessary for voice communications, data sharing, unclassified and classified internet and the commercial Starlink, which works seamlessly with currently navy fielded systems.
EOD Expeditionary Support Unit 2 constructed the more than 760 square foot workspace, and also maintained the equipment throughout the exercise.
"We train like we fight," said the commander, Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, “It takes a team effort to make something like this happen, not just 2nd Fleet. We have been fortunate to work with NECC, who built the tent and communications infrastructure, as well as our reserve forces who have come out in full force and are augmenting us with the personnel necessary to plan and execute operations for this exercise.”
LSE 2021 uses all the elements of live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training and is a globally integrated exercise focused on a fictitious crisis scenario. Navy commands will participate from across the Pacific Ocean through the Atlantic Ocean and into the Mediterranean Sea and are all connected through LVC training systems.
"This exercise is rooted in hypothetical scenarios that are developing our ability to plan, direct, assess, and communicate with the global U.S. naval force to achieve our assigned mission in support of our Nation," said Capt. Craig Bangor, the maritime operations center director for 2nd Fleet.
As part of the broader exercise design, LSE 2021 will also demonstrate the flexibility of Distributed Maritime Operations, Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations, and Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment signaling to our competitors the U.S. military remains ready at the high–end of warfare expressly because of its global operation commitments.
Participation includes 36 live units, underway, ranging from aircraft carriers to submarines, over 50 virtual units participating pier-side and an unlimited array of constructive, computer-generated units, in addition to the Sailors, Marines, Government civilian and contract employees assigned to command and training staffs providing support to the exercise. Participating units will span 17 time zones to include six naval and Marine Corps component commands (U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific), five U.S. numbered Fleets (Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth) and three Marine Expeditionary Forces.
LSE 2021 is the first naval and amphibious large-scale exercise conducted since the Ocean Venture NATO exercises launched in 1981, during the Cold War. Those exercises simultaneously demonstrated NATO resolve and simulated new U.S. maritime capabilities in the acquisition process. The intent is the same for LSE 2021, within the context of modern warfare and during an era of strategic competition.