Republic of Korea, U.S. Marines Coordinate Fire During Exercise

Republic of Korea, U.S. Marines Coordinate Fire During Exercise

PFC Zach C. Hagestad, right, looks downrange through a Vector optics system as U.S. Marine Cpl Viktor I. Cadiente coordinates fire via radio with troops on the ground March 24 at Susungri Range in Pohang, South Korea. The Marines completed a week of fire support coordination training with Republic of Korea Marines as part of Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-14.2, a small-unit training exercise, which enhances the combat readiness and interoperability of the two forces. Hagestad, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a fire support man with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. Cadiente, from Honolulu, Hawaii, is a fire support man with the company. Photo by Cpl Drew Tech.

PILSUNG RANGE, Republic of Korea (March 28, 2015) — U.S. Marines with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company completed integrated fire support coordination and close air support training with Republic of Korea Marines March 23-28 at Susungri Range and Pilsung Range in South Korea.

The training is part of Korea Marine Exchange Program 15-14.2, a combined training event, which strengthens and enhances the Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The ROK Marines involved in the training are with ANGLICO, Air Squadron Unit, 2nd ROK Marine Division.

Fire support coordination is 5th ANGLICO's specialty. They coordinate indirect fire such as artillery or aircraft.

"5th ANGLICO's mission is to provide the Marine air ground task force commander with a liaison capability to work with joint or multinational coalition forces to extend the reach of his combat power when he's operating adjacent to a foreign military," said U.S. Marine Capt Joseph R. Mozzi, a joint terminal air controller with 5th ANGLICO, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. "U.S. joint terminal air controllers and observers become more comfortable talking to ROK aircraft and ROK firing agencies through this training. Same thing with the ROK Marines, they become more comfortable talking to our aircraft and firing agencies as well."

Training alongside ROK Marines is a great opportunity to improve interoperability and better prepare the U.S. Marines for their mission in the Pacific, according to Mozzi, a Dalton, Massachusetts, native.

During the six-day exercise, the Marines utilized ROK and U.S. aircraft for close air support and their mortars and artillery. The counterparts took turns. U.S. JTACs coordinated with ROK aircraft for one mission then switched roles.

The Koreans learned different tactics during the exercise, according to ROK Marine Capt Jin-Pil Kim, a fire coordination officer with ROK Marine Corps Headquarters.

"It was a great chance for me to learn the characteristics of 5th ANGLICO," said Kim. "Getting to see and study how the JTACs work with the fire support coordination center and the aircraft was a great learning experience. It was very meaningful for me to witness the integrated fire."

KMEP 15-14.2 highlights the enduring alliance and friendship between the ROK and U.S.

"The increased camaraderie, between not just ourselves, but also the ROK Marines is one of the biggest things I'd say we took from this experience," said U.S. Marine Cpl Michael G. Dempich, a fire support man from Whitewater, Wisconsin, with 5th ANGLICO. "They're really not different. You see them doing their thing and they're Marines – just like us."

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