News: ‘Invincible Marines, Blood Brothers’ kick off MEFEX 14
Story by Cpl. Matthew Manning
POHANG, Republic of Korea – Marines with the Republic of Korea Marine Corps and the U.S. Marine Corps started the command post exercise portion of the Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise 2014 at Pohang, Republic of Korea March 16.
MEFEX 14 is an umbrella exercise, overseeing the series of ROK-U.S. bilateral and multi-lateral activities and engagements on the Korean peninsula including Korean Marine Exchange Programs, a command post exercise, maritime prepositioning force offload exercise Freedom Banner 2014 and amphibious assault exercise Ssang Yong 2014.
“First of all, I would like to welcome everyone here and I think this is a great beginning of our Combined Marine Component Command (CMCC) exercise as we start our CPX,” said Lt. Gen. Young Ju Lee, commandant of the ROK Marine Corps. “I think this can be marked as one of the historical events between the ROK-U.S. Alliance.”
The Marine Corps is committed to the ROK-U.S. Alliance and regularly exercises to ensure interoperability and maintain strong working relationships, say leaders. MEFEX is the most recent of these exercises.
The level of participating units makes MEFEX different from past ROK-U.S. Marine Corps exercises, according to Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“It is historic that we have the command element of every major subordinate command within III MEF currently operating their headquarters here on the peninsula,” said Wissler. “What is more historic is that in each of our headquarters, you will find our ROK partners working side-by-side with our staff members, preparing to execute what I know will be a successful six days of training. We are glad to be able to operate together at this level, to test our ability to exercise our combined, warfighting capabilities.”
During the exercise, the III MEF Command Element is operating at the 1st ROK Marine Corps Division Base in Pohang, a historic base according to Lee, as it was once the home of the U.S. Marines after the Korean War.
“Pohang is the true home of the ROK Marine Corps,” said Lee. “All the older Marines of the ROK Marine Corps were nurtured here, from noncommissioned officers, officers and all enlisted Marines. As this place holds such a historical meaning, our anticipation for the ROK-U.S. Marine Corps CMCC exercise has to be very high to match this.”
MEFEX will enhance the interoperability between the U.S. Marine Air-Ground Task Force and the ROK Marine Task Force while honing amphibious and expeditionary command and control capabilities, as well as test interoperability between each nation’s Marine Corps.
“I am really anxious to see a growth in the staff, to see them come together as a fighting staff and for this MEF to prove they are capable of executing what all of our MEFs have done throughout history – to fight in complex, high end MEF fight combat,” said Wissler. “The most important thing for this exercise is building on the already strong partnership with our ROK Marine counterparts. We will focus on coming together as a Combined Marine Component Command, we will grow together at the staff level across all the Major Subordinate Commands, and we continue to build interoperability through our different Marine exchange programs with the ROK Marine Corps. “Mujuk Haebyeong, Katchi Kapshida” (Invincible Marines, we go together).”