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D-Day with the ROK is “all hands on deck”

By Lance Cpl. Kelsey Dornfeld | 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade | March 12, 2016

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Marines from the U.S. and Republic of Korea successfully practiced an amphibious assault alongside Republic of Korea Marines on beaches in the Southeast Coast of South Korea, today, for training exercise Ssang Yong 16.

The efforts of more than 17,000 service members from the U.S., Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Australia culminated in an amphibious landing off the coast of Pohang today after three days of rehearsals and months of planning.

The 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade served as the command element for assault waves from 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and ROK Marine Corps Regimental Landing Team 7.

Expeditionary Strike Group 7 commanded the ships of Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group, ROK Dokdo ARG, and Bonhomme Richard ARG.

The amphibious ships could be seen clearly from the beach and AH-1 Cobra helicopters were seen overhead clearing the near side of the objective area.

Ssang Yong focuses on developing joint forcible amphibious entry capabilities among participating nations.

“As we conduct these exercises, we get better; we’re more interoperable and we have better integration across the force,” said Lt. Col. Rodney Legowski, the assistant chief of staff for 3D MEB and a native of Ohio.

The ROK Marine Task Force planned and executed a combined arms attack. Operating next to their American ally, they launched helicopters and disembarked amphibious assault vehicles from a Dokdo-class amphibious warship. Immediately behind their objective beach they parachuted ROK Marines in to simulate a multiple pronged attack. On two separate beaches, CTF-76 deployed the USS Boxer with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Bonhomme Richard with the 31st MEU to conduct parallel assaults. The ROK was the main effort, landing between the MEUs.

Prior to the landing, Marines with 3D MEB, Sailors with Expeditionary Strike Group 7 and Merchant Marines with the Maritime Prepositioning Forces worked together to load warships with vehicles, equipment and supplies to sustain combat operations during and after D-Day.
 
Combat Logistics Regiment 35 ensured that the Marines had food, water, fuel, equipment and maintenance capabilities to carry out the mission by receiving equipment from auxiliary ships called a Maritime Preposition Force. To make D-Day as successful as possible, the logistics Marines had to ensure that all forces moved from the sea to shore as quickly as possible to prepare for follow-on forces, said Capt. Grant Crochet, a logistics officer with 3D MEB and native of Montegut, La.

“At the end of D-day, our forces will have accomplished securing objectives, surface and air, alongside with our partners,” said Capt. Gene Price, the exercise planner for 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade and a Florida native.

With the landing now complete, Ssang Yong has moved to the next phase of operations, where participants will assault through notional objectives, aggregate their forces, and transition to sustained combat operations.   Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment; and Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 1st Marines, landed Marines in Ospreys to stay ashore and run live-fire artillery, urban operations, and squad ranges to correspond with the echeloning of assault forces ashore.

Meanwhile, CLR-35 Marines will board USS Sacagawea to team up with the Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group 7. From there, they will provide logistical support to Ssang Yong participants for the duration of the exercise.  Some of this will be done by using landing craft as surface connectors, bringing tanks ashore from MPF ships, and then reloading them onto U.S. Navy amphibious ships.

The exercise is far from over; it continues from D-Day to beyond D + 20. Reinforcements, called the Assault Follow On Echelon, have arrived in real life and the exercise. 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, currently assigned to 4th Marines, has transitioned from playing the opposing force to the ROK and U.S. They are now serving as a maneuver unit will soon engage in patrolling and mountain warfare operations.



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