ROK, U.S. Marine Planners Prepare for Combined Combat

ROK, U.S. Marine Planners Prepare for Combined Combat

U.S. Marine Capt Jacob O. Gray, left, coordinates with ROK Marine staff members after a leadership meeting July 21 during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-12 at 1st ROK Marine Division Base, Pohang, South Korea. KMEP 14-12 is one iteration in a series of combined training exercises that enhance interoperability between ROK and U.S. Marine forces. Gray is an Essex Junction, Vermont, native and commanding officer of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, currently assigned to Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program. Photo by LCpl Diamond N. Peden.

1st ROK MARINE DIVISION BASE, POHANG, REPUBLIC OF KOREA (July 21, 2014) – Leaders of units participating in Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-12 held a plans and operations meeting July 21 to finalize training at 1st Republic of Korea Marine Division Base, Pohang, South Korea.

The leaders who attended the planning event are with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 1st ROK Division, as well as Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

"This meeting is very beneficial because this is the first time we are sitting down with the (ROK) staff since arriving on the peninsula," said U.S. Marine Maj Daniel J. Thomas, an operations officer with CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. "This will ensure that throughout (KMEP) we know who our counterparts are and that we are able to conduct successful training."

KMEP is a regularly scheduled bilateral training exercise between U.S. and ROK Marine Corps forces held in accordance with the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, which was signed by the two nations in 1953.

"It was good to meet with (the ROK Marines) face-to-face and be on the same page as far as training objectives and training goals so that we can have a safe training exercise," said U.S. Marine 1stLt Traver K. Mayfield, a low altitude air defense officer with 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group 38, which is currently assigned to CAB for the duration of the exercise. "Everybody can learn from each other now that we've established a singular goal and have a step-by-step process of how to get to that goal: the combined arms live-fire exercise August 1."

During KMEP, U.S. and ROK Marines work together to complete a series of field events, culminating in the combined arms live-fire maneuvers.

The staff discussed training dates and made alterations to not only accommodate inclement weather conditions, but also maximize the Marines' use of available assets to increase training time.

"Whenever you bring two units together from different services, much less different countries, there will be some changes," said Thomas, an Oakdale, Louisiana, native. "We are working through the changes, and I think it is realistic of what to expect, even if we were here for a different exercise or evolution."

With plans finalized, the ROK Marines looked forward to working with CAB, according to ROK Marine Maj. In Hyun Kim, the operations officer for 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, 1st ROK Division. This marks the first time the battalion-sized ROK unit has participated in a KMEP involving so many different military specialties.

"This is the first time (my unit's Marines) have met any U.S. Marines, so I am excited and anxious to see how U.S. Marines conduct battle procedures and training," said Kim. "We have never had an exercise this size, so I expect to learn more about the operational planning procedures as we go along."

This iteration of KMEP training started July 21, as both ROK and U.S. Marines traveled to their designated areas to prepare their equipment and execute battle rehearsals. "I want the experience of doing this exercise with U.S. Marines, and I anticipate that our exercise will go well," said Kim. "I want to show the capabilities of our division to the U.S. Marines."

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