Marines utilize Korean Air Base, CLR-35 Marines arrive for exercise Freedom Banner
SACHEON AIR BASE, South Korea -- Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 35 arrived at Sacheon Air Base, Republic of Korea March 1 in support of Exercise Freedom Banner 2014.
The exercise is set to begin March 10 and will extend through Apr. 17, and it will project U.S. military power and exercise maritime preposition force ship offloading capabilities similar to what would occur during a wartime or disaster relief scenario. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for Marines to strengthen relationships between the Republic of Korea and U.S.
“These Marines are part of the arrival and assembly operations group that supports Freedom Banner, and they will add capabilities in the offload of the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo in the coming week,” said Maj. David I. Eickenhorst, the Freedom Banner operations officer and G-3 future operations officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force Command Element. “This air base is used as a fly-in airport of disembarkation where we can control troop flow, movements, and then press onward towards troop integration into follow on operations. Bringing the Marines in through here is one of the most likely methods we would use to get troops in-country during a time of crisis or humanitarian response situation.”
Freedom Banner is realistic both logistically and tactically, and through that realism the capabilities and efficiency of the exercise will be tested, according to Eickenhorst.
“Troop flows would be flying in, all the heavy equipment and gear could be offloaded from the MPF ships, and then they could rendezvous here,” said Eickenhorst. “This is very realistic to how we would do things in a time of crisis, coming in from multiple directions and linking up in a central location.”
The ROK Air Force uses the air base to train personnel, maintain various aircraft and flight equipment, and conduct military cross-training exercises.
“The (ROKAF) really wants to learn how we offload, how we train and conduct these types of operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jimmy Barrientos, a personnel officer with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “By working with them and using this air base, they get accustomed to how we work, so in case there is a scenario or situation we are familiar with each other’s customs and standard operating procedures.”
Allowing the Marines to use the air base is important because it shows the ROK’s commitment to the partnership which both nations share, according to Barrientos.
“If we ever need assistance from the U.S. they will be allowed to use the air base,” said ROK Air Force Capt. Junoh Kim, an operations officer with the ROKAF 3rd Flying Training Wing.
Sacheon Air Base is normally reserved for training but opened up for Marine Corps use during the exercise.
In previous years, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force have trained with the ROK Air Force at the air base, but they have always taken a liking to the Marine Corps, according to Kim.
“I enjoy the (U.S.) Marines and I think it’s important to work with (them) because we help each other and it lets us form a stronger bond together,” said Kim. “Our two militaries share things and assist each other, so it only makes sense to allow them to use the air base if they need to use it.”