DOHA, Qatar - Camp As Sayliyah is a small camp with a large footprint often assisting the entire area of operations with crucial tasks. The assistance of Area Support Group - Qatar and the tenant units of CAS were indispensable for the U.S. armed forces involved in a multinational exercise named Eagle Resolve.
"Eagle Resolve is an annual exercise conducted by U.S. Central Command with countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. A GCC country hosts it annually and this year it was in Qatar," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Sean Heggem, the Navy Central Command liaison officer stationed in Doha, Qatar. "Through NAVCENT, the Navy and Marines conduct annual training with the Qatari military through the Eastern Series exercises. This year these events were brought underneath the Eagle Resolve exercise"
"This year's events included counter terrorism events on land and sea, air and land forces training and a simulated weapons of mass destruction attack that involved not only the Qatar military, but also involved the civilian authorities such as civil defense, police and civilian medical staffs," said Heggem, who has spent most of his 24 year career with the Navy Reserves.
"As the NAVCENT LNO, I attended the various planning conferences and tried to ensure that the visiting NAVCENT planners were working with their respective Qatari planners to ensure they were creating scenarios that would meet each countries respective training objectives," said Heggem, who normally assists with engagements that include Qatari navy and Coast Guard. As the LNO, Heggem arranges training, as well as exchanges and shares tactics, techniques and procedures with his Qatari counterparts. He also engages in foreign military sales to include maritime aircraft, vessels and weapons systems.
"During the final planning conference in March, it was apparent that the Marine expeditionary unit needed additional information on the port at Mesaieed," said Heggem. "I had met Ryan Molina of the Surface Deployment Distribution Command Detachment, several months before and I contacted him to see if he could provide some of the additional information on the port, because they work with at the port weekly and have a great relationship with the Qatari's there."
"Marines and Qatari soldiers went to both the Harbor Master, Capt. Ron Murray and the General Directorate of Customs at Mesaieed Mr. Mubarak Al-Bouainain to ensure no issues would occur for Operation Eagle Resolve," said U.S. Army Cpt. Ryan Molina, commander, SDDC. "Both officials were unaware of any missions taking place at Mesaieed and had no paperwork for clearance to do anything. The Marines then called the U.S. Embassy and informed them of this problem. I then received a call from Sean Heggem asking if I could help facilitate the correct actions to ensure mission success."
Molina's normal duties include coordination and execution of all surface deployment distribution and water term port operations in Qatar that directly support and sustain forces in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, primarily dealing with Al Udeid Air Base and CAS. He is also responsible for supervising and executing the cargo documentation process and verifying the accuracy of movement control documents of Department of Defense cargo by commercial vessels. Molina regularly conducts coordination between the U.S. Embassy, Military Sealift Command, Host Nation Coordination Cell, Qatari government agencies, supporting contractors and different customers to ensure both CAS and AUAB receive cargo.
"During the actual exercise, Area Support Group - Qatar provided security teams to the port and diligently worked with the Qatari customs and immigration official to get the Marines ashore," said Heggem. "They then escorted the Marines to the Al Gulayl training site in southwestern Qatar."
Molina explained his part, "I ensured that the U.S. armed forces, Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Qatari military, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Interior, and port officials, were all aware or received the proper documentation to conduct operations at the port. I also ensured that immigrations were complete, customs paperwork was complete and approved, customs inspections were done, helped with a medical evacuation, and coordinated with Sgt. 1st Class James Johnson to ensure ASG-QA's security forces, escort team, ambulance and the Qatari Military Police were all locked on for each day of the mission."
U.S. Army 1st Class James Johnson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of port operations for ASG-QA, said, "I made all the coordination for both the U.S. and Qatari armed forces to be supported by the ASG-QA security force and escort team, which involves the coordination and execution of all port, escort, and personal security detachment missions throughout Qatar."
Johnson explained, "The purpose of the security force team's involvement was to ensure the beach was swept for ordnance and cordoned off to ensure the Marines were able to safely operate during each landing of the LCAC or landing craft air cushion deployment from the USS San Antonio. The escort team's mission is to ensure that there is a U.S. security element present when U.S. military cargo is being moved from point A to B. This element works closely with the Qatar Military Police and the Qatar Special Police to ensure not only the safety of the convoy, but also the civilians on the road, and ensures that all Qatari government rules and regulations are being followed during convoy operations."
Additionally, Johnson coordinated the operations for other elements involved in the event including some of the tenant units on CAS such as 8th Military Working Dog Detachment and 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment of the Florida Army National Guard.
In the end, the Eagle Resolve exercise was successful with the help of Camp As Sayliyah.
"They provided excellent customer service on a short notice request and worked rapidly to get the Marines ashore," said Heggem. "The entire staff was great in validating some of the questions that the Marines had about using the port as a possible entry point during the final planning meeting."
"Without the help of CAS and the SDDC detachment, I don't believe we would have been successful in getting the Marines ashore as well as getting back aboard USS San Antonio at the end of the exercise," said Heggem.