RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, Republic of Korea --
Cpl. Jae-Seong Baek started off the day March 4 as just another corporal. By midday, he and other Republic of Korea Marines had taken up the role of a "noncommissioned officer."
ROK Marines learned the importance of small-unit leadership, tactics and discipline during fire-team attacks on a fixed objective at the Rodriguez Live-Fire Complex, ROK, March 4.
"Now they move as a more cohesive unit," said Sgt. Dameon L. Groves, a section leader with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. "They move a lot better with multiple people in charge of many small units, rather than with one person in charge of one big unit."
When Foal Eagle began, Marines here said that the ROK gunnery sergeants and lieutenants would do most of the talking. Senior staff and officers would tell the platoon when they could eat, take breaks, use the bathroom and when and where to form up.
"They have sergeants and corporals," said Groves, "they should be taking care of the little guys instead of the gunnies and lieutenants."
Groves said the change started to take place during fire-team rushes, when U.S. Marine NCOs ran the training, corrected deficiencies, and briefed small groups of Marines. Meanwhile, the 3/7 staff NCOs and officers stood back and admired the well-oiled machine, seldom interjecting, and even then only to get things back on track.
"They learned by watching us move around, by watching our small units," Groves said.
The Marines never actually told the ROKs about the responsibilities of a Marine NCO in the Corps. The ROKs learned simply by watching NCOs in action, Marines here said.
The drills themselves helped, as the very nature of fire-team rushes is decentralized small-unit tactics. The ROKs, at first, seemed confused without central command, but caught on quickly with instruction from the Marines.
"Usually when I train with ROK Marines, we train strategy separate from marksmanship. Now we have to put those two together," said Baek, a radio operator with ROK 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "Every movement, every body you have to take into consideration in combat."
The ROK "NCOs" were forced to issue orders from the firing line, because their senior leadership, like U.S. Marines, saved comment or correction until after the assault. So as each group of four ROK Marines assaulted through to the objective, a new small-unit leader was born.
It's easy to see that a lot more corporals and sergeants are taking command of their men and carrying out the plan of the day, said 2nd Lt. Evan Bradley, a platoon commander with 3/7.
"Now what you have is sergeants stepping up, corporals stepping up, rather than senior staff NCOs," said Bradley, a native of Chicago.
Through the process of executing suppression, maneuvering and cover, the ROK Marines learned new methods for war fighting. They also began adopting the backbone of our Corps: The NCO.