NCHON, Republic of Korea --
A company of Marines touched down here on South Korean soil late in the evening Feb. 25 in preparation for Operation Foal Eagle.
Confidence and anticipation ran high for the Marines of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division out of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Tanks and Light Armored Vehicles will dominate on the ground, come the beginning of the CALFEX, or Combined-Arms Live-Fire Exercise, and 81 mm mortar and small arms fire will heat up the night.
For Marines here, flexing and working amphibious muscles strengthens the backbone of the Corps.
Remaining expeditionary is a necessary skill set of the Marine Corps, said Cpl Dane E. Kaehler, a security team leader with 3/7. This operation improves existing doctrine, the mechanized infantry attack, it's what the Marine Corps does, he said.
Soon to meet up with 3/7 are elements of the 1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion and 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. The strategic, simultaneous deployment of these elements can further sharpen the Corps' maritime capabilities.
"Coordination is one of the biggest things and one of the hardest things," said Cpl. Michael A. Johnson, an assistant gunner with 3/7. It's important to practice amphibious employments, with repetition creating muscle memory, because then the Corps can always come back and use that tool in the future, said Johnson, 21, Dallas, Texas.
With the Marine Corps caught in landlocked combat since 2001, blowing the dust off some old amphibious tricks can keep the Corps prepared. And besides, training with the ROK Marines has other benefits as well.
"To see how they work, what their small unit leadership style is like, how they conduct training," said Johnson. He added that battling cold weather conditions can increase the Corps' small-unit cohesion and leadership as well.
Along with growing together as unit, the Marines plan to strengthen relations with the ROK.
It's good to create that bond, Johnson said, between Marines in a small unit and between two countries.
That bond was forged more than 50 years in the past, when Marines from both countries fought side-by-side to retake Seoul from Communist Korea. It's an alliance Operation Foal Eagle will reinforce, so that particular history is free from repeating.