Our Integrated Naval Expeditionary Combat Force

21 October 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.  - What does “Integrated American Naval Power” look like?

At Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), it looks like Marines, Sailors, and Coastguardsmen working side-by-side in operations and an extensive list of integrated exercises, war-games, and planning initiatives.

This integration is not new. 

“The NECF provides unique capabilities.  We clear explosive, security, and physical hazards; secure operating areas for naval and joint forces; build critical infrastructure, domain awareness, and logistics capacity to rearm, resupply, and refuel Naval assets; protect the assets required to project power and control the seas.” said Rear Adm. Joseph DiGuardo, Commander Navy Expeditionary Combat Command when speaking about naval integration. “Together, with the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, we exemplify integrated American Naval power to dominate in the littorals and reinforce blue water lethality.”

The NECF provides essential capabilities and enablers that contribute to mission accomplishment in support of operational plans and Geographic Combatant Commands requirements around the globe.

The NECF is postured to anticipate and rapidly respond to the changing security environment. NECF’s warfighting capabilities as a whole are greater than the sum of its individual parts, and we ensure the integrated naval force continues to dominate on the high seas and across the littorals in an era of Great Power Competition. The NECF is manned, trained, and equipped to clear, secure, build, and protect critical assets and waterways in order to execute full spectrum military operations in support of the Fleet and Joint Force.

The Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard together make up our Integrated Naval Forces. This force has a strong and illustrious history of mutual support and integration in pursuit of the nation’s security interests. From the Barbary Coast to World War II and present day challenges, each service has provided unique capabilities to our Integrated Naval Force.

Fully integrating Marine and Coast Guard personnel assigned to NECC Headquarters and subordinate commands, increases the combat effectiveness of NECF units and provides a competitive advantage for future missions. Leveraging the combat instructor, planning, and liaison skill sets of Marine Advisors and Coast Guard Liaison Officers provides NECF units more support during the integrated exercises, war-games, concepts development, planning initiatives, and unit deployment rotations.

At the lower echelon, subordinate command level, integration takes on the form of tactic discussions with Marines and Sailors at a Naval Construction Force build site. At Civil Engineer Corps School Marines teach tactical skills to students; Sailors and Marines training side-by-side in the field.

Collectively, NECF units provide extensive support and train alongside Marine and Coast Guard units during exercises around the globe. These exercises include, but are not limited to, Pacific Blitz, Austere Challenge, Baltic operations (BALTOPS), Valiant Shield, Trident Juncture, Balikatan, Cobra Gold, and Freedom Banner.

NECC planners support naval integration war-games focused on naval force design, development, and employment to include the Naval Services Game, Ghost Fleet, Enders Shadow, and OPNAV Contested Logistics.

Finally, NECC’s Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard planners support  naval integration planning initiatives to include the Maritime Working Group, Littoral Maneuver Integrated Planning Team, and US Fleet Forces Command and Fleet Marine Forces Atlantic Combined Naval Integration Campaign Plan, Contributions to concept development writing teams, and Explosive Hazard Mine Counter Measures working groups.

To support naval integration efforts within NECC, the Marine Corps assigned over 20 active duty Marines and nearly 40 reserve Marines across the NECF. Since 2019, the Marine Corps nearly doubled the size of the reserve detachment and quadrupled the funding to enhance naval integration. The Marines serve as Marine advisors within the NECC Headquarters and subordinate commands.

As advisors the Marines provide tactical training, contribute to planning requirements, as well as exercise and certification support during NECC integrated exercises (NIEXs). Additionally, Marine Advisors serve as liaisons to adjacent, supporting, and higher echelon Marine Corps units to facilitate coordination and support during joint operations. 

“I serve as the Fleet Marine Officer (FMO) for NECC and am assigned to the N5 Plans Section.” Said Maj. Collin Bell. “As the FMO, I am the primary Marine point of contact within NECC HQ and represent the Marine Corps commitment to naval integration. I support naval integration initiatives by representing NECC’s equities on naval integration operational planning teams (OPTs), operational concepts development projects, exercise planning, and as a member of the NECC/NECCPAC Battle Staff. Additionally, I facilitate [active] and [reserve] Marine support to NECC’s HQ staff sections and subordinate commands.”

The Coast Guard regularly integrates elements of their deployable specialized forces with NECC forces, specifically the MESF.

When NECC was activated in 2006, the Coast Guard Port Security Units (PSU) were conducting security missions in Kuwait. The Coast Guard established command and control structure to align the PSUs into the NECF mission.

“As a Coast Guard Liaison Officer, my main duty is to ensure that support to the NECF is to activities for which the Coast Guard is especially qualified.” Said Lt. Cmdr. John Massingill, “Those qualifications leverage the special roles and authorities which are unique to the Coast Guard.  I also serve as an advocate for Coast Guard participation in joint training opportunities and in the development of Navy operations plans.”

Currently the Coast Guard provides approximately 50 reservists to NECC’s Maritime Expeditionary Security Groups 1 and 2, and Maritime Security Squadrons (MSRON). These Coast Guardsmen deployed with the MSRONs to Djibouti as integrated members of the staff since 2013. The integration in the MESF has been so seamless that the commander of the next MSRON unit deployed to Djibouti will be a Coast Guard officer.

NECC is responsible for organizing, manning, training, equipping, and sustaining the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force (NECF) to execute combat, combat support, and combat service support missions across the full spectrum of naval, joint, and combined operations which enable access from the sea and freedom of action throughout the sea-to-shore and inland operating environments.