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Korean Incremental Training Program (KITP)

Korean Incremental Training Program [KITP] is a bilateral exercise conducted in the vicinity of Pohang, Republic of Korea. U.S. Marine forces participate in live fire, maneuver and mountain warfare training with Republic of Korea Marine Corps forces. The Korean Intergrated Training Program is a one and a half month joint training in conjunction with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Marines that takes place in Pohang, Korea Marine Expeditionary Camp Pohang (MEC-P). The Korean Incremental Training Program gives U.S. Marines the opportunity to practice tactics in an environment much different from that found in Okinawa, Japan or Hawaii. It also gives them a chance to increase interoperability with the Republic of Korea Marine Corps forces, and to enhance their warfighting skills.

USS Germantown (LSD 42) returned to Sasebo following participation in a fleet training exercise with the Republic of Korea's navy and marines July 17-19, 1999. The Korean Incremental Training Program, or KITP, lasted three days, and culminated in a combined surface and air amphibious assault on a beach near Pohang, Korea. During the training, Germantown operated with three Korean amphibious ships - ROKN Kojunbong, ROKN Unbong, and ROKN Bukhan. Two waves of Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) and a wave of Landing Craft Air Cushion, or LCACs, hit the beach on time and off-loaded their Marine crews to participate in a 24-hour training period with ROK Marines ashore. For Battalion Landing Team 2/3, the assault completed a month of training in Korea. For Germantown, the training presented the perfect opportunity to test equipment overhauled during the last Selected Restricted Availability (SRA), completed just one week prior to leaving for Pohang. In addition to the U.S. Marines, Germantown hosted 75 ROK Marines and Naval officers for a ship tour while inport Pohang and embarked four ROK AAVs and 90 ROK marines to participate in the assault.

KITP was conducted from November 8, 2000 thru December 2000. 1st Bn., 3rd Marines and Combat Service Support Detachment 33 deployed to the chilly and austere Marine Expeditionary Camp Pohang in the Republic of Korea 08 November 2000. Korean Incremental Training Program 00-1 was conducted in coordination with Republic of Korea Marine Corps forces to enhance warfighting skills and increase bilateral interoperability. After the exercise, 1/3 and CSSD-33 redeployed to Okinawa to continue their training. 9th Engineer Support Bn.'s MEC-P Combat Service Detachment remained behind and prepare the camp for the next exercise.

Providing Marines with the chance to learn skills normally not afforded to them at their duty stations is what most deployments are all about. But the Korean Incremental Training Program (KITP) adds a different culture into the mix, throwing roughly 1,000 U.S. Marines and Sailors into bilateral training with Republic of Korea Marines Nov. 2 to Dec. 6, 2001. The bilateral training succeeded on a tactical level by providing great opportunities during force-on-force field exercises as Marines got to face off against ROK opponents who think completely differently about the scenarios.

Above and beyond the obvious training benefits, though, lay the intangibles: Marines were exposed to an entirely different culture and got the chance to experience evolutions and training courses with their Korean counterparts.

Bilateral training opportunities between ROK marines and U.S. Marines centered on three specific events.

The first evolution involved platoon and company-sized airlifts and insertions via fast rope with 30 Marines from 3rd Bn., 4th Marine Regiment, Ground Combat Element for fast-rope training from actual helicopters. The lifts were a complete success, with both Marine and ROK grunts getting nearly a dozen chances to fast rope and the helicopter pilots having the opportunity to practice combat-speed approaches into a landing zone. The U.S. Marines also had the chance to participate in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training while in Korea and earn their tan belts. They also trained with ROK marines in the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do.

The third event was a two-day Mountain Warfare Training Course developed by the ROK Marine Corps as a crash course introduction to rappelling and other techniques for descending rock faces. The ROK Marine instructors were eminently professional in their instruction, and nearly every U.S. Marine who attended the course made his or her respective "leaps of faith." Part of that success statistic, however, could very well be attributed to oriental wisdom in the layout of the training area: once Marines made the strenuous climb up, it was nearly impossible to climb down.

In the end, the exercise provided the Marines and Sailors with Marine Air-Ground Task Force-34 with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to train with ROK Marines.

The ROK Marine snipers took advantage of the U.S. Marines visit to improve their scout and sniper skills. The ROK Marine snipers are selected by senior officers in the infantry regiments, and this was the first formal training they had. First Battalion, 3rd Marines, deployed from Okinawa for KITP 00-1, brought three surveillance target acquisition teams with them. Each four-man team took a group of ROK Marine snipers with them to learn some basic insertion and extraction tactics as well as actions on objectives. Although the ROK Marines were learning from the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Marines also got some good experience. The terrain here is different from Hawaii or Okinawa. There are a lot more hills and mountains, and the climate is different. Usually operating in teams of two or four, the STA teams found it awkward to move with nine or 10 ROK Marines, but the experience was worth it.

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