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Coalition training bridges Korea, U.S. Army

By Pfc. Giancarlo Casem

SEOUL, Korea (Army News Service, Feb. 14, 2005) - U.S. and Republic of Korea Soldiers worked together to bridge the Han River Jan. 29, and officials said it was an example of training that continues to build a strong alliance between the two armies.

"Working with the ROK Soldiers is excellent training," said Capt. David Stewart, commander of the 50th Multi-role Bridge Company. "It is some of the best training we do and it's a great opportunity for the U.S. Soldiers to learn from the ROK Soldiers. So, that in the event of war, we're prepared to work together."

The training exercise afforded the 50th MRB "Pirates" of the 2nd Infantry Division a chance to work hand-in-hand with their ROK counterparts from the 312th Engineer Battalion.

"We both need to know how the other works, and it also gives us a chance to learn each other's culture," Stewart said. "Training went very well, we had a chance to work on what each other's plans are, how we operate, how we differ and how our training is the same."

The plan was for CH-47 helicopter airlifts to assist with the bridging operations, Stewart said.

Snow, wind and poor visibility, though, forced the airlift missions to be cancelled, and the Soldiers adapted to the situation.

".We have practiced and are trained to be very flexible," Stewart said. "We changed our mission to launching our rafts and bays from the shore."

Spc. Jeremy Barnett was the "pin-man" for a boat crew during the exercise. He had the responsibility of jumping onto a piece of the bridge and connecting the ramps.

Barnett said he enjoys his job and his favorite part is putting the bridge together.

"I like running around and getting the mission done," Barnett said. "The hardest part is sleep. Being out in the field, you don't get as much sleep, but it all pays off when we get the mission done."

The 50th MRB goes to the field about once a month and takes as much as they can with them, said Pvt. Justin Harris.

"We can't really train on-post," Harris said. "The only thing we can do in the rear is take care of our equipment.

"It gets the adrenaline going," he said of field training. "Everybody moves a lot faster."

(Editor's note: Pfc. Giancarlo Casem writes for the Indianhead newspaper that serves 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.)

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