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MAKO Challenge 2024 Increases Navy Readiness

The MAKO series is designed to give Reserve Sailors hands-on experience within the Operational Level of War (OLW) environment including a Maritime Operations Center (MOC) scenario.

“The MAKO series allows an opportunity for reservists to come in on their drill time to get basic reps and sets in MOC watchstanding, operational planning teams, cross-functional teams, briefing the boss, what the different watch positions are, and all things in the MOC,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth Blackmon, vice commander, U.S. Fleet Forces.

With limited time and high operational expectations, the Navy Reserve prioritizes training to increase warfighting readiness. That means evolutions like MAKO are designed to give Reserve Sailors in the Fleet the most realistic training they can get without actually standing on the active watch floor, the expectation when they are called out on orders for exercises or to fill in for active duty gaps.

“To go straight into the watch floor, there’s definitely going to be a learning curve since we don’t see this on a daily basis,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Boda, a Reserve Sailor in the USFF Intel unit. “Even as a local driller who comes in once a month, it’s still 30 days between when I walk in. With the operational environment, a lot can happen in 30 days. I think that people who go through MAKO on a regular basis, people who get the qualification, there’s less of a curve. But if you don’t put in the effort, you’re going to have to work a lot harder when you do go on orders.”

Boda is one of two Reserve Sailors in his unit to stand watch alongside his active counterparts. During MAKO Boda served as a mentor to train reserve colleagues to build a bench of support.

Reserve Sailors who attended MAKO make a direct impact on the readiness of the Navy as the MOC and other operational-level-of-war lines of effort are priorities by Navy leadership.

“In terms of warfighting, it’s been stated multiple times by the different flag officers who participated this weekend, the MOC is a key component to our Navy’s success,” said Blackmon. “This is where the real-time war decisions are made. So, the opportunity to do some reps and sets, to learn those processes, in a dialed-back environment where the MOC isn’t operating at its fullest capability, for these new Sailors at the various Fleets, it gives them some muscle memory of how planning works, how the battle rhythm helps commanders make decisions.”

Senior leaders visited the watch floor and spoke with Reserve Sailors and mentors in order to better understand the training taking place and witness the active and reserve integration firsthand.

“It is inspiring to see the training and collaboration between active and reserve staffs,” said Vice Adm. John Gumbleton, commander, Task Force 80 and deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Forces. “At the end of the day, Reserve Sailors provide a valuable resource during fleet operations and exercises. They make us stronger and bring immense experience and skillsets along with a different way of thinking that adds tremendous value to the Fleets.”