Rappel, climb, patrol, repeat: ROK, U.S. Marines train for mountain warfare

10 Feb 2015 | Pfc. Cedric Haller The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines train for mountain warfare during Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-17 Feb. 8 at the Minam-ri Mountain Warfare Training Facility, Pohang Republic of Korea.

U.S. Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program, trained in rock climbing, rappelling and patrolling alongside ROK Marines with Company 6, 32nd Battalion, 1st ROK Marine Division.

“Especially in (the ROK), there are a lot of mountains and difficult terrain, so I can definitely foresee us needing these skills,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Nathan A. Bretz, a machine gunner with the company. “Rappelling is a widely used skill, not just for getting down a mountain, but also for helicopter insertions. It is definitely important to be comfortable in the basics of these skills.”

This training increased the Marines’ ability to confidently navigate a rock face or any obstacle they may face in mountainous terrain.

“Repetition was a big focus today,” said ROK Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kim Tae Min, a mountain warfare instructor with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st ROK Marine Division. “The Marines were able to build strength, stamina and balance, which are essential elements to rock climbing and rappelling.”

Training alongside the ROK Marines gave the Marines the unique opportunity to revisit a familiar skill with a foreign force.

“We were split up into small groups, which allowed us to really understand what we were doing,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Mitchell P. Jeffers, a rifleman with the company. “We really got hands-on. It’s a lot of knowledge to take in, but it’s reassuring to know that I can tie my own harness.”

Throughout the training, the Marines were able to observe each other’s techniques and compare the similarities.

“It’s interesting to come out here and share what we know with each other,” said Bretz, a Denver, Colorado, native. “I noticed a lot of the terms they used for different brakes and knots were different than what we used (even through translation), but they still functioned the same way as ours.”

The Marines trained hard and enjoyed learning new skills from each other and can’t wait to continue with their training, according to Jeffers, a Rayne, Louisiana, native.

“It’s been pretty awesome! I feel like (the ROK Marines) have the same mindset as us,” said Jeffers. “Everyone was a little apprehensive at first, then everyone starts yelling and motivating (each other) to go. It’s been a blast working with the ROK Marines so far.”

KMEP 15-17 is just one iteration in a series of continuous combined training exercises that enhances the ROK and U.S. alliance, promotes stability on the Korean Peninsula and strengthens ROK and U.S. military capabilities and interoperability.