RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, South Korea – The thumping in the air grows louder as the small dots in the sky begin to take form. As the aircraft approach the mountainous terrain ahead, the roar of their engines reminds anyone in their way to seek cover. Suddenly, the radio crackles as the pilot says, “On target!” Without hesitation the observer responds, “Cleared hot!” The scream of the rockets shatter the early morning silence as missile after missile rips through the lingering haze, only to impact on the mountainside moments later.
Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines coordinated a constant flow of live-fire attacks on the high-explosives impact zone at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex Oct. 8, 2014 during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-13.
U.S. Marines watch the sky for aircraft Oct. 8, 2014 at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex during Korean Marine Exchange Program 14-13. KMEP 14-13 is one iteration in a series of continuous combined-training exercises designed to enhance the Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance, promote stability on the Korean Peninsula and strengthen ROK-U.S. military capabilities and interoperability. The U.S. Marines are with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Stephen D. Himes)
“Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company is here to partner with the ROK Marine Corps,” said U.S Marine Capt. Joseph Mozzi, a supporting arms liaison team leader with 5th ANGLICO, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “With operations the Marine Corps conducts, it needs to have an ability to extend its combat power when working with non-U.S. forces and non-U.S. Marine Corps forces.”
Often times, ANGLICO units will be completely separated from U.S. Marine units in real-world operations, according to Mozzi, from Dalton, Massachusetts. Training with the ROK Marines has allowed the U.S. service members to learn how their counterparts employ close air support and indirect fire. It has also allowed each unit to learn how to work together through the language barrier and the difference in tactics, techniques and procedures.
“Working with the U.S. Marines from 5th ANGLICO, we are learning how to coordinate together to improve the use of our air assets,” said ROK Marine 1st Lt. Kim Young-Jin, commanding officer of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Brigade, 2nd ROK Marine Division.
The Marines observed the target from an outpost overlooking the simulated battlefield as rounds came in from different locations and in different forms. Artillery and mortars provided the initial indirect fire barrage while an assortment of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft completed direct live-fire close air support attacks.
This training is critical to battlefield success, providing accurate and timely ordnance on specific targets can be the difference between life and death for friendly ground units in the area.
Combat proficiency is invariably increased when controlling aircraft in coordination with ground based units and foreign militaries, according to Mozzi. The more repetitions the Marines get with talking to a live pilot, the better they become at guiding the aircraft to engage the target.
With recent conflicts relying on more joint-allied and coalition-based operations, training with partner nations establishes good relationships and educates both countries on how to provide appropriate support faster.
“Since we work more with other branches and nations, training with the ROK observers is exponentially beneficial,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Viktor Cadiente, a joint fires observer with 5th ANGLICO. “Talking to their artillery batteries and mortar teams, as well as having their observers talk to American pilots, lets both of our nations improve our communication skills and teamwork.”
Arranging all of the assets to arrive at the proper time is a very precise technique, according to Cadiente, from Honolulu, Hawaii. There are multiple people talking on multiple channels with two different languages. This is the kind of training that has become more and more necessary over the past decade.
Getting face time with the ROK Marines and training alongside them is our biggest goal, according to Mozzi. The training is important, but building a better relationship is vital and the key to future success.
“This is my first time working with U.S. Marines,” said Young-Jin. “I want to have a successful training evolution, but more than that, I want to improve our personal relationship. It has been great working with them, and I look forward to any future opportunities my unit and I have to train with them.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Stephen D. Himes
Provided through DVIDS
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