Annual Training Exercises: A Soldier's Story
DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA -- The Republic of Korea is home to some of the U.S. Army's largest annual exercises. These exercises are the largest computerized command and control exercises in the world.
During the exercises, many officers and senior enlisted Soldiers are assigned to work stations fighting the battle across a digital network. But, what about the junior enlisted Soldiers? What do they do? In fact, they do a lot.
Prior to the start of the exercises, personnel from across the globe touch down in Korea. Many of these personnel have never entered Korea before. Who greets these newcomers? Junior enlisted Soldiers.
Soldiers transport incoming personnel from airports and bus stations and bring them to their respective reception center. At the reception area, junior enlisted Soldiers assist incoming military personnel to be in-processed and eventually help outgoing personnel to be out-processed. Soldiers do not just help with the paperwork. The reception team also gives a short brief about Area IV, Daegu, and Eighth Army policies.
Spc. Joseph Felix, 224th SBDE S1 admin specialist, specifically came to Area IV to help with the in-processing portion. He said, "Approximately 750 people were in-processed for Area IV Daegu and added that it has been a great opportunity to see Korea and learn a new culture especially coming from America."
The Soldiers in the Life Support Area section assist in all aspects pertaining to personnel staying in the LSA barracks for the duration of the exercise. They clean the LSA, retrieve any supplies personnel would need during their stay, and answer questions. In-coming personnel are even personally taken to their assigned beds in the LSA.
Pvt. Jake Bell, 19th ESC Headquarters and Headquarters Company CBRNE specialist, who assisted with transportation and the LSA said, "We had to learn how to in-process personnel for the exercise, keep track of everyone all the time, and maintain the LSA barracks for the incoming military personnel."
"We also do the legwork and just help out in any way possible like informing people who are new to Korea how to operate in the Korean environment," added Pfc. Joelyssa Amaya, 19th ESC HHC generator mechanic.
There are also Soldiers who aid with setting up the Forward Command Post (FCP), which can be described as a mobile communications command center. For the most recent exercise, approximately 20 Soldiers were tasked to the FCP. These Soldiers took shifts for the Random Antiterrorism Measures (RAM) mission, Quick Reaction Force, and staff duty.
Pvt. Jazmine Brannon, 19th ESC HHC S1 actions clerk, said, "On a busy day, it can be a little difficult if you get FCP, RAM detail, and staff duty. It also means your sleep schedule can get pretty weird. But, it's important to practice and be flexible if anything does go down. We have to be prepared for the situation here."
Pfc. Dong Seok Son, 19th ESC HHC Republic of Korea Army Support Office, admin specialist, added, "Because of my Military Occupational Specialty, I often work in front of computers most of the time, but [this exercise] gave me the opportunity to learn how to use different equipment and train in the field through setting up the FCP and being a part of RAM mission. Additionally, I do not have the chance to interact with U.S. Soldiers on a daily basis, but I was able to form new relationships and experience the U.S. work culture."
Additionally, some junior enlisted Soldiers take shifts guarding restricted areas. These Soldiers ensure that all personnel who enter have the appropriate security clearances and check to see that all rules and regulations are followed.
"Working my shift was a great opportunity to get to know other Soldiers, especially KATUSAs (Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army), because I do not get the chance to work with them. The only chance I had to meet them was during PT formation, but I get to work with a KATUSA on my shift every day during the exercise," said Pfc. Paul Bentley, 19th ESC HHC Support Operations, ammunition stock control specialist.
All in all, each Soldier has to play his or her part. Some will operate in front of computers, some will set up tents, some will check security clearances, some will drive visitors, and others will guard gates. Every single mission, no matter how big or small it may seem, is equally important.
Every Soldier is a part of the team for the mission to enhance readiness, protect the region, and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula, hand in hand with our ROK counterparts.