News: ROK, US Marine howitzers howl through KITP
Story by Cpl. Kentavist Brackin
CAMP RODRIGUEZ, South Korea — Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion 12th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and Republic of Korea Marines with the 22nd Battalion, 2nd Artillery Brigade, 2nd ROK Marine Division, conducted bilateral artillery training during the Korean Incremental Training Program 2011-2 at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex here, April 17-21.
The coordination exercise is one of many exercises that make up KITP 11-2, a joint-service, bilateral training exercise between ROK and U.S. forces designed to strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance, while promoting stability throughout the Korean Peninsula.
This is the first time ROK and U.S. forces have held a battalion-level artillery exercise together during their alliance, according to ROK Marine Lt. Col. Byung Sun Lee, the battalion commander for 22nd Battalion. “I am greatly honored to be a part of this historic event,” said Lee. “We acted as one which will ultimately allow us to connect with one another, as well as, realize the importance of our alliance.”
Approximately 400 Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines (Rein.) are participating in the exercise, including 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, and the temporarily assigned firing battery, Romeo Battery.
Romeo Battery fired artillery ammunition utilizing its five M777A2 howitzers in coordination with three ROK Marine firing batteries, while 5th ANGLICO provided fire control.
“This wasn’t a typical ANGLICO mission, so it got us out of our comfort zone,” said Lance Cpl. Colin A. Fruehbolt, a fire support man with 5th ANGLICO. “Normally, we work with the more maneuverable part of the infantry, but since we came here we have gotten a lot closer to our artillery roots with helping to coordinate the fire missions.”
The language barrier was probably the most difficult obstacle U.S. and ROK Marines faced during the exercise, according to Fruehbolt. “But a couple of the ROK Marines spoke English, so we were able to easily get over that.”
During the exercise ROK and U.S. Marines working together fired 155mm high-explosive, smoke and illumination rounds from the howitzers throughout the day.
“It was all a good experience for the junior Marines,” said Cpl. Andrew R. Turner, a section chief with Romeo Battery. “It will give them a different outlook on life in and outside the military. I just hope that our being here made a stronger bond between our two countries.”