To prepare for great power conflict, both the mine countermeasures (MCM) force and the supported force must train to overcome realistic mine threats. Too often, the Navy treats MCM as though mine warfare happens in a vacuum. This degrades training to the detriment of both the MCM force and the supported force. At the operational level, MCM enables units to safely transit from point A to point B. To borrow a football analogy, the MCM force is the offensive line that allows the rest of the offense to execute its mission. If the offensive line does not practice with the rest of the offense, it will show on game day.
Separating many MCM exercises from surface fleet and amphibious force exercises promotes a divide between MCM and the larger mission. The Navy must fully incorporate MCM into training exercises; not merely simulate a training delay for the pretend MCM force to clear mines. Integrating MCM into these larger exercises may disrupt the fleet’s battle rhythm, but that is exactly what mines would do in conflict. Surface ships and amphibious forces cannot always sidestep mines; mining has and will continue to affect operational decisions.