Snow skiing mobility training for Marines
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, South Korea -- Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines grab their rifles, skis and packs and begin a trek straight to the top of a ski slope. Once at the top they begin learning to ski, every day their skills progress and they learn more advanced techniques. The ROK Marines are with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. The U.S. Marines are with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The Marines are learning each other’s differences in snow mobility training during Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-3. The basic techniques are different for both countries but the overall mission objectives are the same.
“At first I thought it was going to be difficult to work with them because of the language barrier,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel S. Shanholtz, a motor vehicle operator with Alpha Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “A lot of the Koreans already know English and acted as (interpreters), but we used a lot of hand signals to make it a lot smoother.”
After the language difficulties were worked out, the Marines learned how to ski. They practiced techniques for falling safely, stopping, climbing up a hill with skis on, skiing with a pack on, skiing with a rifle and more.
“Although we have a different method for falling down and we practice differently, it really brought us closer together to learn one another’s techniques,” said ROK Marine Lance Cpl. Lee Sun Hwang, a radio man who also instructed the snow mobility training is a part of Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “We worked together learning the techniques with (ROK) instructors teaching us one day, and the next the American instructor.”
Some basic differences were the ways the two groups held their ski poles, the way they stopped and the way they practiced learning the techniques.
“We have three main techniques to learn snow mobility- weighted skiing, skiing with a weapon and traversing rough terrain,” said Sun, from Seoul, Republic of Korea. “The way we practice our basic principles are different, so it really is a good way for us to learn from each other and try new techniques to test their effectiveness compared to our own ways.”
Working together during exercises like KMEP allow ROK and U.S. Marines to maintain a strong relationship as well as to test one another’s capabilities. This allows the Marines to build confidence when working together in real world operations.
“We know each other’s capabilities,” said Sun. “From now on we need to know each other more and more to be able to communicate and work effectively in a winter environment because of the tough conditions. We hope to continue this training in the future.”