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Improvise, Adapt, Overcome: ROK, US Marines Train for Winter Mountain Warfare

US Marine Corps News

By Pfc. Cedric R. Haller II | February 11, 2015

Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines train for winter mountain warfare during Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-4 Feb. 4 at the Pyeongchang Winter Training Facility, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea.

The ROK and U.S. Marines learned different ways to survive in the cold mountainous terrain and also new ways of concealing themselves.

"Today we split-up into teams with the ROK Marines and learned how to build fires and dig shelters, used as temporary observation posts, using shrubbery and anything in the natural environment to conceal ourselves from the enemy," said U.S. Marine Sgt. Joseph K. Blankenship, a rifleman 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.

The ROK Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st ROK Marine Division specialize in stealth and scouting. This training teaches the U.S. Marines how to survive without getting caught and still accomplish the mission.

"In a real operational situation, part of our mission requires us to remain undetected," said ROK Marine Staff Sgt. Son Heoseong, a reconnaissance man with 1st Recon Bn. "If we were behind enemy lines, we must be able to dig in and conceal ourselves so we can complete our mission with minimal casualties."

KMEP is a regularly scheduled, bilateral, small-unit training exercise that enhances the combat readiness and interoperability of ROK and U.S. Marine Corps forces.

"We've only been training for one day and I've already learned some things I didn't learn the previous two times I've done winter training," said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Richard A. Jarrett, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion. "Their concealment holes were very interesting and different, because they are designed for you to live inside as opposed to our fighting holes which are primarily designed as defensive positions."

Survival skills such as knowing how to find food and clean water and how to build fires and shelters are essential skills in nearly every environment, so this training allows the Marines to be more proficient at what they do, according to Blankenship, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native.

"This training is unique, because we are learning from another country's armed forces," said Blankenship. "Although there was a bit of a language barrier, it was interesting to work with them and get past that and learn these skills."

Teaching the infantry Marines was a unique experience, because these skills are mostly used by recon or other special forces, according to Son, an Osan, ROK, native.

"The most important part about this training is that we get the opportunity to exchange tactics and work together," said Son. "These skills that we taught the U.S. Marines today are the basics of what we do when we are in a real operational environment. I am confident the Marines will be able to take the knowledge we have given them and apply it to their own tactics during combat operations."

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