Planning critical to combined live-fire success on Korean Peninsula

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U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Christopher L. Medlin, right, speaks with unit leaders from the Republic of Korea Marine Corps Oct. 7 at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-13. (Photo by Cpl. Stephen Himes)
U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Christopher L. Medlin, right, speaks with unit leaders from the Republic of Korea Marine Corps Oct. 7 at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-13. (Photo by Cpl. Stephen Himes)

Planning critical to combined live-fire success on Korean Peninsula

by: Cpl. Stephen D. Himes, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office | .
U.S. Marine Corps | .
published: October 25, 2014

RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, South Korea -- At first sight, it looks like a child played in the dirt to create a make-believe town. But to the knowledgeable eye, the sprawling terrain map details an intricate plan of attack for the following days.

Unit leaders with the Republic of Korea Marine Corps gathered around a terrain model as their counterparts from the U.S. Marines Corps and Army briefed a plan Oct. 7 for a combined live-fire exercise at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-13.

Involved in the plan were two infantry battalions, aviation elements from multiple squadrons and militaries, and a variety of other mission essential personnel all working together in two languages, according to U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Medlin, the commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program. The rehearsal of concept is the mechanism used to synchronize everyone to the plan.

KMEP 14-13 is a regularly-scheduled, combined, small-unit training exercise, which enhances the combat readiness and interoperability of ROK and U.S. Marine Corps forces.

“The rehearsal of concept helped us understand how the U.S. Marine Corps plans ahead, so we are aware of the training plan,” said ROK Marine Lt. Col. Koo Kim, the commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 8th Brigade, 2nd ROK Marine Division. “We want to learn as much as we can from the (Marines), so we can implement their tactics, techniques and procedures. This will help us integrate with the (Marines) in possible future operations.”

The training events for KMEP 14-13 included combat life savers courses, mechanized assault training, helicopter assault integration and day and night platoon and squad-sized maneuvers, which culminated in the combined live-fire event. The live-fire training tested all the skills the Marines learned over the previous weeks.

“We start our training at the lowest levels using preparatory ranges, such as military operations on urbanized terrain or marksmanship training, where we can go over tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Medlin. “This progressive build-up to a company live-fire attack enables the cross pollination of tactics, techniques and procedures, so we will understand what the ROK Marine Corps is doing on our left or right flank.”

The ROK Marine Corps is dedicated to using this exercise to gain as much knowledge as possible from the U.S. Marines, according to Kim. The long combat history of the U.S. Marine Corps will provide invaluable knowledge to the Korean Marines.

With the goal of pivoting U.S. military focus to the Asia-Pacific region, exercises like KMEP are essential to mission accomplishment.

“If you look at the whole series of plans for the Korean Peninsula, we aren’t going to do it ourselves,” said Medlin. “Our number one driving point is to be integrated and partnered with the Korean Marine Corps.”

Along with being better combatants, the ROK Marines are looking to establish lasting relationships with their U.S. counterparts.

“We are here to train, but we also want to become better friends,” said Kim. “Better personal relationships will ultimately lead to a better, stronger allied partnership.”