Marines begin bilateral training with South Korean peers

29 Feb 2008 | Cpl. GP Ingersoll 1st Marine Division

More than 300 Marines turned up the heat in the cold, mountainous South Korean peninsula Feb. 29 when they kicked off the bilateral training exercise Operation Foal Eagle.

 Foal Eagle is an annual training event that takes place 15 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. Despite the small numbers in his force, for Col. B.P. McCoy, 7th Marines’ Commanding Officer, the bigger picture is in focus.

 “(We aim to develop) combined arms tactics, techniques and procedures that are all part of the plans for the deterrence of oppression on the peninsula here,” said McCoy. In the process of attaining these goals, Marines train with Marines.

 Foal Eagle puts Republic of Korea (ROK) Marines side-by-side with U.S. Marines. Together they conduct everything from basic marksmanship to a full-scale, full-speed combined arms live-fire exercise, or CALFEX.

 “This training is a great experience,” said Sgt. Kang-Sik Lee, 22, from Dae/Go, South Korea. “It’s a new thing to our army; we have a lot of mountains, and this type of training increases our urban prowess,” said Lee, a rifleman with ROK 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

 He said that the ROK Marine Warfighting Manual doesn’t mention much about urban combat. In the last decade, South Korean trade has expanded, and modern urban growth is rapidly replacing the sprawling, rural areas.

 Seeing how U.S. Marines operate in a close combat environment is one of the main benefits for the ROK troops, said Sgt. Deandray L. Dyer, 26, from Kalamazoo, Mich.

 “They can adopt some of our tactics that they can mold to their own style,” said Dyer, a Light Armored Vehicle crewman with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

 One important facet of McCoy’s command style that may influence the ROKs – an emphasis on medical evacuation – was practiced thoroughly during the first day of training. But as much as the Marines here focus on preventing and saving casualties, they train to make casualties.

 “(Our goal is) to take manpower and match it up with the machines of war and turn it into a fighting force that is capable of executing combined arms,” said McCoy.

 To put it simply, McCoy said, “that’s what this organization is; it is an organization designed to apply violence, and at the end of the day put metal into the meat of our enemies.”

1st Marine Division