A member of Maritime Civil Affairs Squadron 2, left, speaks to a role-player villager through an interpreter during the Navy
Expeditionary Combat Command Advanced Training Exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., in March 2008. The Navy Maritime Civil Affairs
Group is ramping up for its largest deployment, sending eight teams around the world to assist military operations.
(NECC) has just begun an evaluation of the MCAG to
possibly increase its role in providing civil affairs.
MCAG, which is part of NECC, comprises headquarters staff and two squadrons.
“Our teams have to be very fleet of foot to go to any
region,” said Cmdr. Leon Jablow, operations plans and
policy officer for the MCAG.
Basic training takes about four to six months and
deployed personnel could be asked to take language or
“Every area is different and everything becomes
localized,” Jablow said.
The group recently added a planner to each team,
making most teams six people.
In the early months of the group’s existence, it did
not look more than a few months out for advanced
planning. It now looks anywhere from one to five years
ahead, said Jablow.
A major milestone for the group was offering first-responder capabilities for the first time in the form of
sending out teams for disaster relief operations in January.
“For us, it’s a huge positive as it shows we’ve reached
a level of maturation as an on-call force,” Jablow said.
Senior Chief Jeffrey Ayre supported the Joint Special
Operations Task Force Philippines mission for six
months earlier this year. The missions he assisted
included building schools and roads and providing
seminars for doctors and teachers.
“Working with these people and seeing how much
an effect you have, it’s so much more satisfying than I
thought it would be,” Ayre said. “We were actually
able to get in there, get in with the mayors and figure
out who’s who and where we can influence the best.”
Lt. Albert Cruz and Senior Chief Aaron Vandall
have been part of the MCAG since its inception.
“It has evolved dramatically, from a straw man, to a
force, to a multiplier for the fleet,” Cruz said.
For Vandall, the hardest part about being part of the
MCAG remains selling it to the Navy.
“We are developing a new command and a new
capability for the Navy, and selling that to a Navy
component commander and showing what kind of
bang for the buck they can get remains a challenge,”
Cruz and Vandall will be part of Continuing Promise ’09. ■
SEAPOWER / MAY 2009