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U.S.-ROK Conducts Combined Amphibious Landing During FE 07

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070330-33
Release Date: 3/30/2007 8:18:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

MANRIPO BEACH, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- The Korean phrase “Katchi Kapshida” or “Let’s go together” was the motto for more than 4,400 U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) Sailors and Marines who took part in a combined amphibious landing here, March 29.

The landing was conducted as part of the joint/combined Exercise Foal Eagle 2007, an annual exercise designed to improve interoperability and combat readiness between U.S. and ROK forces and to build on the long-standing alliance between the two nations.

ROK and U.S. Navy ships comprising the Foal Eagle Amphibious Task Force (FE-ATF), in tandem with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and ROK Marine Corps’ Regimental Landing Team (RLT) 2, planned and executed the landing as one integrated team.

The ships of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESXESG) and four ROK Navy tank landing ships (LSTs) launched assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs), landing crafts air cushions (LCACs), landing crafts utility (LCU), and heavy and medium helicopters.

“This combined landing continues to demonstrate that our two countries can integrate in a matter of days and be ready to conduct a major combined/joint amphibious operations,” said Capt. Anthony J. Pachuta, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 and the task force commander of the FE-ATF. “Our staffs worked very closely together to design a decisive action plan that overcame environmental challenges and allowed us to accomplish the objectives that were laid out to define mission success in Foal Eagle.”

Not only was the landing completed with combined assets, but also with a combined staff. Working side by side in the flag plot and landing force operations center of USS Essex, PHIBRON 11 teamed with ROK PHIBRON 53 while 31st MEU staff partnered with RLT 2 staff to assign taskings and jointly manage the FE-ATF and their ship-to-shore deliverables. Though the amphibious landing’s execution lasted a few hours, the exercise symbolized what was nearly a year’s worth of planning between the two militaries.

“The success of this exercise will enhance ROK Navy capabilities as well as our U.S.-ROK combined capabilities,” said ROK Navy Capt. Changkuk Kim, PHIBRON 53 commodore.

Interoperability between the forces was displayed in several facets of the amphibious landing from the maneuvering of ships to the landing of combined waves of AAVs.

“The amphibious landing, which brought together Marines and Sailors from two nations demonstrated, despite the language barrier, our ability to rapidly form an amphibious task force and execute an assigned mission,” said Marine Col. John L. Mayer, the 31st MEU commanding officer.

“Our tactics, techniques and procedures, in addition to the Marines and Sailors’ esprit de corps, made the transition from planning to projecting military personnel and equipment ashore nearly flawless,” added Mayer

Forces on the ground carried out the mission as planned. Military members from both forces said they felt pride in what they were doing and recognized an important link between the United States and the Republic of Korea in achieving the mission.

“It is so positive [for the ROK-US militaries] to come together to achieve the mission,” said ROK Marine Lance Cpl. Min Cheol Seo, whose unit landed on the beach by CH-53E Sea Stallion and CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters. “The experience is very new to us. The U.S. Marines were so helpful, and we feel closer to them and the U.S. Navy.”

Prior to the landing, U.S. Marines conducted a series of workups with their ROK counterparts, teaching them how to board the helicopters and don life vests. This type of training and communication was key to a successful landing and fostering understanding for what it takes to work together in all operations said 31st MEU Marines.

“I think working with [the Korean Marines] did bring about a sense of being one team,” said Marine Cpl. Alexander P. Ashley, a crew chief with Medium Marine Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced). “Here, we were able to provide the air support so that the Korean Marines could achieve their objective. It showed that we can work together to execute.”

Expeditionary Strike Group 7 / Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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