Marines depart for Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-12
POHANG, GYEONGSANG, Republic of Korea -- Marines with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, crossed the East China Sea July 15 to participate in Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-12 at Pohang, Gyeongsang, Republic of Korea.
KMEP is a regularly scheduled exercise that enhances interoperability and strengthens the existing relationship between ROK and U.S. Marines.
“Marines always stick together, and that includes on the international stage,” said Maj. Daniel J. Thomas, an operations officer with CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Based on our mutual defense treaties, we could, if something were to happen, be fighting together against a common foe. In order to make sure we’re ready to do that, we do KMEP training.”
The bilateral training consists of military operations in urban terrain, combat lifesaving techniques and basic entryway breaching. It will culminate in a combined arms live-fire event with ROK Marines to gain perspective on how they train and navigate the terrain.
“Training with them will give us a better understanding of how they operate,” said Sgt. Devon J. Gende, a Portland, Oregon, native, and combat engineer with the battalion. “(Training together) helps us understand each other’s capabilities, strengths and weaknesses are so that we can operate better with each other.”
KMEP 14-2 will feature a wider variety of training because CAB is the only battalion-sized combat assault unit in the Marine Corps with engineers, assault amphibious vehicle support and light armored reconnaissance capabilities, as well as motor transport, heavy equipment, communications, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense units.
“For us, this will be the first time our (entire) battalion will be conducting a KMEP with our ROK Marine counterparts,” said Thomas, an Oakdale, Louisiana, native. “We’re looking to integrate our elements across the board, so that we can operate alongside each other and improve our ability to excel.”
KMEP connects ROK Marines and their U.S. Marine counterparts with similar military occupational specialties to train and exchange best practices. However, it also creates opportunities to make new friends and learn about another culture.
“I’m nervous, but excited about the idea of Korea,” said Lance Cpl. Anthony C. Alvarez, a Los Angeles, California, native, and CBRN defense specialist with the battalion. “Going to Korea will give me a new perspective on their lifestyle, their culture, foods and ideas. It’s something I’d like to learn about. At the end of the day we’ll learn new things and how to work together.”
While the Marines with CAB may have personal goals in South Korea, the mission is still the same: to improve combat readiness and interoperability between ROK and U.S. Marines.
“We want to gain a better appreciation of the (terrain) on the Korean Peninsula so that if we’re called upon to fight, we can do so in an expeditious manner,” said Thomas. “I’m looking forward to the exercise, and I think this will definitely continue to set the tone for future evolutions that CAB is able to conduct on the peninsula with our ROK Marine counterparts.”