SOUTH KOREA - Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines conducted an amphibious assault on Doksuk-ri and Hwajin-ri beaches April 26 as part of the exercise Ssang Yong 13.
“The culminating event for us yesterday was our two regimental amphibious landing operations, where we had Marines from 3rd Marine Division, a Marine air-ground task force and a ROK Marine task force,” said Col. Michael L. Kuhn, the MAGTF chief of staff and the 3rd MarDiv Headquarters Battalion commanding officer.
Ssang Yong, which means “twin dragons,” is a bilateral training exercise held annually in the ROK. It is designed to strengthen the interoperability of the ROK and U.S. forces.
During the synchronized waves of the landing, assault ships, amphibious assault vehicles, landing craft air cushion’s, infantrymen, helicopters, airplanes, and fighter jets were employed in less than half an hour, according to Kuhn.
“The important part about the landing was the combined forcible entry operation to land a ROK regiment and a U.S. regiment on two beaches at the same time,” said Kuhn. “A unique thing was that we had U.S. and ROK amphibious ships launching ROK and U.S. AAV’s, respectively.”
Since 3rd MarDiv’s focus is on the Asia-Pacific region, it is important for the unit to embrace the traditional role of a Marine as a professional maritime warrior. Marines have to be able to negotiate a vast distance of land and water, making amphibious operations an invaluable part of the division’s effective operational readiness, said Kuhn.
“I guess the rule that you want to live by is don’t learn how a friendly unit does business for the first time when it’s supposed to count,” said Lance Cpl. Benton K. Hawks, an ammunition technician with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd MarDiv. “So the more we train the better off we will be when we have to do it for real, and that goes for fellow Marine units and the Koreans.”
Amphibious landing operations—moving Marines from sea to land—is a job that requires teamwork in order to achieve mission success, said Hawks.
“Our efforts at teamwork were a success because even though a language barrier existed, we had an element of nonverbal communication that came from our mutual military professionalism,” said Hawks. “This training provides the opportunity to enhance military-to-military partnership giving two military forces the capabilities to effectively work together in the future.”
The training accomplished during Ssang Yong will set the Marine Corps up for success in the future because if there were ever a crisis or contingency in the Republic of Korea, Marines would be ready to seize the operational tempo and accomplish their mission, according to Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, the commanding general of III MEF.
“Our direction from General Thurman (commanding general, United States Forces Korea) is to be prepared to fight tonight,” said Glueck. “The only way we will be prepared to do that is through dedicated, integrated training like Ssang Yong 13. I have the utmost confidence in the capability of our two Marine Corps to be able to fight together at any given moment.”
The continuous success of Ssang Yong 13 is based on the bonds of camaraderie between ROK and U.S. Marines, highlighting the importance of why working side-by-side enhances operational readiness, according to Glueck.