Korean exercises kick off

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Tom Montgomery
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Forces from all U.S. services started arriving here March 11 for the peninsula's largest exercises.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines gathered in Korea to work with their South Korean counterparts in the two major exercises to show how U.S. forces will help defend the country. The exercises will also give the warfighters and planners a chance to work in an interservice and multinational environment.

The Reception Staging Onward Movement and Integration exercise is an annual command-post exercise that tests the ability to receive forces on the peninsula, process them and move them into position.

The second exercise, Foal Eagle, is an annual field training exercise that works with the integration exercise to test the combat capability of the combined forces to defend South Korea.

The exercises will activate the Hardened Theater Air Control Center here where Korean and American commanders simulate running an air war, said Maj. Larry Brown, who schedules air events for Foal Eagle.

"This is very challenging. We are always learning quite a bit about our capabilities as a joint and combined team," said Brown.

As the aircrews train overhead, deployed Air Force security forces will practice defending the base with in-place security forces, other base people and Korean army soldiers.

Kunsan Air Base officials send about 50 opposing force airmen to attempt to breach base security, and it is the job of the 51st Security Forces Squadron forces to stop them.

Opposing forces will live in the nearby city of Suwon rather than mixing with the other deployed forces in Osan's tent city.

"(They) will have to navigate to Osan and then infiltrate; it's more realistic," said Maj. Dave Hazlett, who planned the air base defense portion of the exercise.

Combined Forces Command officials from Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul set up a joint reception center here to handle most of the 4,000 to 5,000 people coming to Korea for the exercises.

Which forces will deploy was decided months ago based on training requirements. Because of high demand in other areas, the equipment coming to Korea has been reduced, according to officials.

No matter the amount of forces working together, the logistical problems can become so intense they resemble tangled Christmas lights, "For example, (C-5 Galaxys) are being loaded with tanks, and at the last minute a commander decides he wants (Patriot missiles) to come as (quickly) as possible... What do you do?" said Tom Verhage, lead Air Force planner for the exercises. "The prioritization and reprioritization is very dynamic, and once decisions are made or as cargo is (rejected), the results send ripples throughout the system."

Foal Eagle air base defense exercises are the largest of their kind in the Air Force today, and have become a benchmark for other exercises, according to officials. (Courtesy of Pacific Air Forces News Service)