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CAMP CASEY, South Korea – For more than a month, Soldiers from the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division, trained alongside their joint and combined partners for their debut participation in the Republic of Korea Army’s Integrated Firepower demonstrations Aug. 7-28 near Pocheon, South Korea.
The massive capability demonstrations were conducted for public viewing five times throughout the month and included a variety of assets from both the U.S. Army and Air Force.
In addition to the tanks, helicopters and jets previously seen in the 2012 event, this year’s lineup showcased the brigade’s Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and Paladin self-propelled howitzers.
“This is a unique opportunity for us because it allows us to practice with all elements of the Army alliance here in Korea,” said Maj. Elijah Ward, operations officer for 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, whose battalion specializes in the MLRS platform. “This is an exercise where we can see what other units get to do, and we get to see how they all fit in the big picture.”
Due to its unparalleled lethality, versatility and range, the U.S. Army has used the MLRS for nearly 27 years. The 210th Field Artillery Brigade maximizes its lethality with three dedicated MRLS battalions, all of which participated in the event.
Success of the MLRS platform, in addition to working alongside their U.S. counterparts, has allowed the ROK Army to find the strategic value in the weapon’s utility and decided to use them for fire and counterfire operations within its own formations.
“The MLRS is currently one of the strongest field artillery weaponry system,” said Lt. Col. Tae-Hun Kim, the battalion commander of 5000th Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Brigade, 6th Division. “It is a vital part of the defense of the Korean Peninsula.”
“Even though it is our first time being in a part of the demonstration, but it is an honor to show our strength and procedures to the citizens of Republic of Korea,” added Kim. “Furthermore, participating this event with our sibling units made this exercise much more meaningful.”
During the demonstrations, three launchers from each country’s Army shared tactical positions and targets. The ROK command post then received "call for fire" signal, which is then transferred to six MLRS crews simultaneously to fire at the same time, said Ward.
Having successfully completed such an alliance-strengthening event with the ROK Army and spending every day for five weeks in the same compound with their ROK allies, the brigade’s crew members were able to establish a positive rapport and trust among their counterparts.
In addition to reinforcing the mission essential skills of each Soldier, the brigade’s Soldiers educated themselves on the culture of the respective armies: How they think, operate and execute their missions.
“There is something different when the Soldiers work and live next to each other,” said Ward. “It is this partnership that makes us strong. This exercise allows us to see that, we are partners in alliance.”
In addition to firing the first U.S. rockets from the ROK range, troops also encountered a few more firsts, including the integration of live-fire exercises with multiple types of units among combined and joint partners.
“In an artillery brigade, you only get to see artillery units,” said Ward. “We have learned a lot about how we use MLRS when we have troops maneuvering in proximal range and we have airplanes up in the sky.”
Through maintaining and developing positive relationship between both field artillery units and their combined-joint partners, the alliance will be able to summon coordinated artillery fire power at any time of need.
“I think the biggest thing here is establishing the relationship between ROK 5000th Battalion, and other maneuver units out here with our assets,” said Capt. Jason Yu, commander of Battery A, 6th Battalion, 37th FA Regiment, 210th FA Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “Seeing how it would look like in a coordinated scheme of maneuver. Learning about each other’s capabilities and movements out in the battlefield is the key component we learned so far.”
“This exercise really demonstrates our capabilities in case of provocations from the north,” added Yu, a Chappaqua, New York, native. “It really shows the great firepower we have in defense of South Korea and how we operate together in the real environment.”
Video Description Credit: Pfc. Jaewoo Oh