News: Training benefits ROK, US Marines
Story by Lance Cpl. David Hersey
POHANG, South Korea - Republic of Korea Marines with 1st Republic of Korea Marine Corps Division, Military Police Company, trained alongside U.S. Marines with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion using various weapons systems June 17-20 at Su Seong Re Range, Pohang, Republic of Korea.
Both units participated in the Korean Marine Exchange Program 13-10 and were training to improve their understanding of each other’s weapons systems and tactics. The U.S. Marines are with III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.
Among the weapons fired at the range were the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, MK19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, M249 squad automatic weapon, M240B machine gun, 12-gauge shotgun and the M9 pistol. The Marines practiced proper procedures for loading, firing and remedial actions should the weapons malfunction.
“It’s important that the ROK Marines know how to operate our weapons,” said U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Karl L. Park, a correctional specialist with the battalion. “If we’re in a scenario where a U.S. Marine is injured, the ROK Marines can take over that weapon and keep the rounds going downrange.”
The R.O.K. Marines are grateful for what the U.S. Marines taught them during the program, according to R.O.K. Marine Lance Cpl. Ki Hoon Yang, a military policeman and interpreter with the 1st Division Military Police Company.
“I believe we will do better with this training,” said Yang. “It is good for us, and it helps give those who have no experience with America, a chance to exchange culture with the Marines.”
Beyond mastering necessary combat skills, an added benefit to the training and exercise was improving the relationship between the two countries, according to U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Amy E. Ebitz, the commanding officer of the battalion.
“Considering that we are strong allies, it’s important that we not only work together, but trust each other as well,” said Ebitz. “It helps gain a better understanding of how the ROK Marines operate. The more we understand about each other the more productive our interactions will be.”
“We are always preparing for the chance that we might have to go into combat,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jesse M. Callahan, a military policeman with 3rd LE Bn. “By sharing tactics and how to operate our weapons, it makes it easier to react if that day actually comes.”
By the time the training was finished, the Marines of both military forces had broad smiles and memories to last a lifetime, according to Callahan.
“This training taught us about accuracy and proper technique while giving all of us a way to bond at the same time,” said Callahan. “In the end, we’re all Marines and shooting weapons like this is fun for us.”