The five-day FTX, conducted at Naval Base Ventura County’s field training sites, challenges future CEC officers to function as a team while completing scenario-driven missions. This method of FTX training is integral to preparing students for future operational assignments in the Navy, allowing students to utilize lessons and skills learned in the classroom.

“CECOS FTX is where our new officers gain a basic understanding of how command and control is exercised in the field and where they hone their ability to assess a situation, assess risk and think strategically. independent,” said the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE) and CECOS chief executive Cmdr. Amy Honek, 2004 CECOS Foundation Class graduate.

CECOS FTX tasks touch on the basics of military tactics and integrate relevant scenarios applicable to the expeditionary forces of today and tomorrow. As a result, students graduate from the basic course and are ready for more advanced training in their future operational assignments.

The diversity of students in each class enhances the training experience.


“These officers have a unique opportunity to operate within such a diverse group,” Honek said. “Among them are 32 active duty officers, ten reserve officers and one officer from the Republic of Korea Navy (ROK) Seabees.”

Some students bring previous experience from the fleet and multiple commissioning sources. All bring a mix of [university] degrees and leadership experience.

“All of that can be maximized and leveraged in a unique way in a field environment and it’s great to see how they form together in their teams that way,” Honek said.

Upon arriving at their FTX campsite, the students are tasked with building a tent city within five hours. CECOS Basic Class 273 completed the task in just over four hours.

During FTX, students are divided into four squads with a commissioned officer, chief petty officer, and marine adviser. Each squad is given missions to plan and conduct security patrols, command post exercises and technical reconnaissance (recon).

For example, one training mission performed by the students was reconnaissance of a potential helicopter landing area. The students were tasked with planning the mission, developing a patrol order, and carrying out reconnaissance.

Realistic security patrols provided unique challenges combining squad tactics, operational procedures, radio communications and engineering problem solving.

CECOS students were also tasked with developing an engineering solution plan and presenting it to the instructors for mission approval.

Ensign Melina Duong, a student assigned to the Second Squad, has gained a newfound respect for CEF officers and the Seabee community.

“It was a new experience for me,” Duong said. “Being able to see us grow together as a team, and the challenges we were able to overcome, was very impressive and rewarding.”


When asked about her plans after FTX, Duong said she wanted to take about five showers and then decide whether to eat or sleep.

CECOS students receive classroom and laboratory training before and after FTX, covering construction methods, emergency planning and operations, engineering reconnaissance, and land navigation. The total duration of their training at Port Hueneme is 15 weeks and is usually followed by Expeditionary Combat Skills training at Gulfport, Mississippi.

Successful execution of each iteration of the CECOS base class requires constant effort within the command. FTX evolution requires more participants to support its execution.

“CECOS FTX relies heavily on support from personnel outside the unit so that we can rush through this phase of officer training,” Honek said. “We were successful this year thanks to Marine Corps Advisors from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) and Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3.”

CECOS provides Seabees, civil engineering corps officers, facility engineers and environmental professionals with the skills, knowledge and education to enhance lifelong learning and provide support quality to the fleet.

Core Class 273 is scheduled to complete the 15-week course on October 28.