ROK, U.S. build relationships through combined exercise
POHANG, Republic of Korea -- Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines showcased combined capabilities through vertical assaults April 2 during Ssang Yong 14 at an abandoned training range in Pohang, Republic of Korea.
Ssang Yong combines ROK and U.S. Marine and Navy Forces to enhance working relationships and cooperative integration through different types of military operations, ranging from complex amphibious assaults, realistic live fire ranges, to rapid helicopter borne insertions.
“Working with the ROK Marines has been pretty awesome so far,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Charles I. Johnson Jr., a mortarman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. “I’ve gotten to work with a regular infantry company as well as their recon unit. They’ve taught us a lot of useful skills and we’ve helped them too.”
Throughout the event, MV-22 Ospreys flew in low and landed in a football-sized open field surrounded by abandoned structures. Then, dozens of ROK and U.S. Marines rushed out and set up their positions. As wave after wave of Ospreys landed in the field Marines proceeded to advance using modern operations on urban terrain tactics, clearing out multiple buildings, engaging role players simulating opposition forces.
Johnson has trained and worked with the ROK Marines for about a week to prepare for the complex assault. His job, along with his ROK Marine counterpart, was to deploy indirect fire capabilities. U.S. Marines, like Johnson, were able to share their experience to the ROK Marines from lessons taken from recent combat deployments and operations.
“This was a good opportunity to learn a lot of things from U.S. Marines, such as how to proficiently operate the mortars and calculate input from fire direction control,” said ROK Marine Cpl. Oh Seung Hun, a mortarman with 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st ROK Marine Division. “We applied everything we learned from them.”
This exercise enhances the combined capability between the U.S. Marine air-ground task force and the ROK Marine task force while honing amphibious capabilities of each nation’s Navy and Marine Corps.
“Working so closely with the U.S. Marines helped us both improve our skills as an infantry unit and we were able to complete tasks with little problem,” said Oh.
Mortars provided Marines with a man-portable, expeditionary fire support system crucial for aerial insertion operations, according to Johnson.
“Our mission as mortarmen is to provide close, continuous fire support,” said Johnson. “We showed the ROK Marines our way of looking at a mortar system, which is a three-part system we refer as the eyes, brain and muscle. The forward observers are the eyes, the fire section leaders are the brain and the gun line is the muscle.”
The U.S. Marines spent a lot of time training with the ROK Marines to set up mortars, fire and then move to another location, according to Johnson.
“It is a very technical skill and once we got past the language barrier, we integrated well,” said Johnson. “I’ve trained with many foreign militaries and the ROK Marines live up to same expectation I hold any other military to. I trust them to watch my back as much as I trust my own Marines.”