PYEONGCHANG, Republic of Korea -- Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines exchanged combat maneuvers and tactics during Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-4 at the Pyeongchang Winter Training Facility, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea.
KMEP is a regularly scheduled, bilateral, small-unit training exercise, which enhances the combat readiness and interoperability of ROK and U.S. Marine Corps forces.
“Today the ROK Marines demonstrated how they would react to enemy contact and close-quarters battle techniques, and then we showed them how we operate,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Donald J. Leek, a platoon sergeant with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. “Training like this really improves the already strong, working relationship we have with the ROK Marines.”
This training ensures that the ROK and U.S. Marines’ understanding of each other’s combat tactics is at the highest level possible.
“Comparing our tactics with those of the U.S. Marines’ was a unique situation, because our tactics are similar in many ways,” said ROK Marine Capt. Moon Jung Hwan, the commanding officer for Special Reconnaissance Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st ROK Marine Division. “What we were looking to take away from this training is the Marines’ experience on the battlefield and to apply that to our tactics.”
Being in a cold weather environment can play a significant factor on how the Marines react to different threats.
“This is the third time I’ve done this kind of winter training and it’s still a shock every time I come to this kind of environment,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Preston D. Ellenbolt, a rifleman with Company L. “Unless you live in an environment like this, I don’t think anyone really gets used to it.”
Cohesiveness, interoperability and comprehension all play a vital role should the ROK and U.S. Marines need to work together during any future operation, according to Leek, a Terrehaute, Indiana, native.
“These skills are useful in pretty much any conventional warfare setting,” said Leek. “The only noticeable difference between our tactics that I saw was in the size of the teams.”
Sharing cultures is a significant factor in gaining a better understanding of the combat tactics of the two forces despite the language barrier, according to Moon, a Seoul, ROK, native.
“Training alongside the U.S. Marines gives us a different look at tactics we are familiar with, which will increase our ability to work as a single unit,” said Moon.