CHAM SAE MI CLOSE-QUARTERS BATTLE TRAINING FACILITY, POHANG, Republic of Korea --
It is Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. An unusually chilling breeze sweeps the battlefield as Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines prepare to assault the Cham Sae Mi Close-Quarters Battle Training Facility during Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-17.
Marines stand-by anxiously waiting as the platoon commander briefs them on the mission one last time.
“Our mission is to take the (CQB) facility and establish a position there,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ross A. Kaeding, a platoon commander with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. “We’re going to cordon-off the facility, then work our way toward seizing it by moving building to building until it is entirely clear. Once it’s clear, we will set-up a combat operations center and send out patrols to ensure that the surrounding area is clear of hostiles.”
The brief concludes. The Marines get into position. “Alright, let’s move!” The attack begins.
The Marines stack on the buildings forming straight lines along the walls as they approach the first doorway. “Frag out!” A Marine screams as he tosses an M69 training grenade into the room.
With danger seemingly around every corner, the Marines rush inside with the intensity to match that of a charging bull and begin clearing the first room. “Left side clear! Right side clear! Room clear!” Marines shout as they continue through the building.
“The assault teams move through the buildings and clear them out section-by-section. Once one portion of the building is cleared, the support team moves in to allow the assault team to advance,” said Kaeding, from Onarga, Illinois. “The security teams provide security around the building to prevent enemies from entering or exiting the building we are currently in.”
Blank ammunition rounds can be heard coming from what seems like every direction, echoing throughout the buildings. As if a kind of graceful choreography, the Marines move through each building of the town taking minimal casualties.
The facility is taken and the Marines establish a Combat Operations Center, rearm themselves and head out to patrol the surrounding areas.
A sizeable enemy force is reported on its way to their position and a harassment force is mobilized to engage the enemy.
“The harassment force locates the enemy and begin firing upon them, then retreat back to another position and wait to engage the enemy again, which slows them down and thins their numbers,” said Kaeding.
As the enemy continues toward the defensive positions, mortars begin to rain from the sky further slowing the enemy’s movement. They finally reach the defense and are quickly displaced by machine gun and small-arms fire. The Marines have won the day.
KMEP 15-17 is just one iteration in a series of continuous bilateral training exercises that enhance the ROK and U.S. alliance, promote stability on the Korean Peninsula and strengthen ROK and U.S. military capabilities and interoperability.