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1st LAR, ROKs bond amid destruction

10 Mar 2008 | Cpl. GP Ingersoll

Block by block, building by building, room by room, Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines stormed through an urban range called the "Warrior Village" here March 8 by way of land, air and plastic explosives.

 Starting with a CH-53 troop insertion, the U.S. Marines surged around the first "enemy" infested structure and demolished the door with C4. As pieces of the entryway flew in all directions, another CH-53 buzzed overhead to the ROK Marine insertion point.

 Their coordination was practiced, and the exercise was the culmination of Operation Foal Eagle.

 "The most exciting part of this is training together with U.S. Marines in (Mobile Operation in Urban Terrain)," said ROK Sgt. Seng-Hun Han, 23, Inchon, ROK. "The U.S. does one part, ROK does the other ... we're combined, working together."

 The U.S. Marines trained the ROKs from the ground up, starting with simple stacking and room clearing. Eventually they added multiple rooms and multiple floors, and forced entry, such as kicking through doors or tossing in grenades.

 "It took a long time, but this way to teach us is great," said Han, a team leader with ROK 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

 Marines started by breaking down urban warfare tactics step-by-step, building the ROKs from the ground up. At first their techniques seemed a little rough, but the Marines here still had faith.

 "They're a strong unit, they work well together, and they work well with U.S. Marines," said Lance Cpl. Curtis W. Shirey, 21, Flint, Mich. "It all came together once we started doing MOUT."

 ROK and U.S. Marines' maneuvers were almost identical come the end of Foal Eagle.

 "This is a way for us to bring all that training, Air Combat Elements, Ground Combat Elements and coalition forces, together as a team," said Sgt. Z. Farmer, 25, Vista, Az.

 As a team, the ROKs and the U.S. Marines secured the town, kicking down doors side by side at times. During their training and final exercise, they not only closed with and killed the enemy, but made some friends in the process.

 "The good part is building relationships and understanding, in the way we train and the way they train," said Farmer, a point vehicle commander, Company A, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. "And then we bring it all together. One team one fight."

 Marines also learned a lot about Korean culture. By the end of the training, every U.S. Marine seemed to be sporting some piece of ROK gear, from gloves to rank insignia.

 "It's awesome learning about different countries through their military," said Shirey, a scout grenadier with Company A, 1st LAR.

 No matter what country Marines are from, taking a city apart piece by piece can bond them together.