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Logistics Marines, ROK Marines train together side by side

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Thomas W. Provost, Marine Corps Bases Japan

The sharp cracks of simunition rounds being sent downrange echoed throughout the military operations in urban terrain facility as Marines - Korean and American - flowed side by side like water through the town ridding it of mock insurgents.

Marines from the Republic of Korea's 1st Marine Division and American Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted Military Operations on Urban Terrain and patrolling exercises together March 12 as a culminating event from all their previous training during Exercise Freedom Banner 2010 in Pohang, Korea.

"It's good to pass training along to our allies, and good to take away training from them too," said Cpl. Patrick C. Ducey, field artillery cannoneer, Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. "Like rappelling and mountain climbing, they are basically the masters at it."

Some of the other training the ROK and CLR-35 Marines conducted together were live-fire shoots, mountain climbing and rappelling, MOUT training and patrolling. All the training, led up to a culminating event where the Marines were divided into three squads. In a round-robin style of events, two squads were on patrol while one cleared the MOUT facility.

On the patrol route, there were two unknown points where aggressors would attempt to ambush unsuspecting squads using mock improvised explosive devices and small-arms fire using blank rounds. The aggressor groups were also made up of ROK and U.S. Marines.

Opposing forces were also defending the MOUT town using mock IEDs and simunition rounds - chalk-like 5.56 mm training rounds that break apart on impact - but the advancing squads had their own special tools to combat the aggressors.

Throwing smoke grenades and blue M69 practice grenades along with their own simunition rounds, joint Marine squads maneuvered through the town with the blowing smoke to push out the defenders.

The multinational squads on patrol also located and surprised would-be ambushers, taking them prisoner each time.
Working together gave the ROK and U.S. Marines a valuable experience.

"The exercise has been a great experience to train with the ROK Marines, and especially their mountain warfare school, which can help prepare us for places like Afghanistan," said Ducey.

The bilateral training was just one part of Exercise Freedom Banner.

According to Staff Sgt. James W. Lochner, amphibious assault vehicle section leader, Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, currently attached to CLR-35, there were three parts to the exercise: the off-load of tactical vehicles and equipment from U.S. ships in support, the application of the vehicles and equipment and the back-load of the vehicles and equipment.

The vehicles and equipment are part of the U.S. Military Sealift Command's Prepositioning Program organized to support military operations on short notice with fleets of maritime prepositioning ships. One of Exercise Freedom Banner's missions was to give the Marines experience and know-how to utilize the program, said Lochner.

Nevertheless, a principal benefit of the exercise was simply the experience the ROK and U.S. Marines had training together.

"It's very important to operate on the same page in any type of environment, and one of the major lessons of this exercise is to be always flexible," said Lochner. "To be able to do whatever whenever."

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