POHANG, South Korea --
April 21, 2014 - Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines familiarized themselves with each other’s minesweeping equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures April 21 during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-6 in Pohang, Republic of Korea.
The KMEP series of exercises are held regularly between the ROK and U.S. Marine Corps to increase interoperability and combined capability, demonstrate continued dedication to the ROK-U.S. relationship, and contribute to security and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Today was about building interoperability with the ROK Marine Corps,” said U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. Pierce D. Torrence, a combat engineer officer with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “The training that we’re focusing on is breaching minefields, marking lanes and improvised explosive device identification and defeat. We met with our Korean counterparts, and had a few classes on mine detectors and learning to identify Korean mines to build on our skills, so that when we move to more advanced training we can further our capabilities.”
The training day began with the U.S. Marines providing instruction on metal detectors and minesweepers, followed by the ROK Marines instruction on the metal detector their forces use.
“We got a chance to work with the U.S. Marines and practice using each other’s devices,” said ROK Marine Staff Sgt. Cha Kwang Hyeon, a combat engineer with 1st ROK Marine Engineer Battalion, 1st ROK Marine Division. “In the afternoon we set up a simulated minefield, and we taught the U.S. Marines about minefields, different kinds of mines, and which mine lanes have which mine groups. After the lesson we got to practice some minesweeping techniques. We showed them our sweeping technique, and then we got to learn their sweeping technique.”
KMEP 14-6 is carried out in the spirit of the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty signed in 1953 to build a comprehensive strategic security alliance based on common values and mutual trust. The exercise underlines the enduring alliance and friendship between the two nations.
“The most important thing about this training is working with the ROK Marines,” said Torrence. “We have our own capabilities and they have theirs, but when we get to work together and exchange ideas, that interaction builds a stronger relationship, which will in turn make us a more cohesive fighting force. Having these regularly scheduled training evolutions with the ROK Marine Corps is essential for that relationship to continue to grow.”
Although this exercise has just begun, both ROK and U.S. Marines are eager to train, according to U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jildardo Reofrio, a combat engineer with 9th ESB, 3rd MLG, III MEF.
“We’re here for a month,” said Reofrio. “We’re just getting started, and we still have a lot to learn. I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can and being more proficient at my military occupational specialty than I was before.”