Experienced Seabees Teach Newer Ones About Combat

The Gulfport Seabee Base has a new way of preparing young troops for situations they may face in Iraq.

This week, about 150 Seabees are taking part in the first Fearless Squad Competition. During the exercises, combat veterans pass what they've learned on to inexperienced Seabees.

The weapons are checked then double checked and so is the ammunition supply. Before the convoy can roll out, the Seabees must make sure everything, from the communications systems to the humvees, is working right.

"That way when you get out there and stuff does hit the fan, you've got all your gear. You're not going to be left in the dark," said Seabee Jason James.

Seabees who've been to Iraq say convoys are a favorite target of terrorists. NMCB-74 is due to return to the region soon where troops must be ready for potential attacks from suicide, car, and remote control bombs.

Robert Statzer is one of the experienced Seabees serving as an instructor.

"What we're doing is teaching the guys how to be security for a convoy. If you notice on the news here lately, the convoys are the one that are getting shot at and getting blown up. The reason they're targeting our convoys is because it has all our supplies on it: construction materials, food, water, fuel or whatever."

Learning to clear a building is another part of this competition. A high score could mean earning leave time. Learning to use the skills in real life combat could mean coming home alive.

Seabees say the only way to do that is to work together.

"That's the only way to work. Without team members you can't get nowhere because you ain't got nobody covering your back," Seabee Justin Rummel said.

Seabees say the war has given them an expanded role with new challenges and they've got to be as prepared as possible.

The Fearless Squad competition continues on Wednesday.