Another shot at interoperability equals readiness
ICHEON, South Korea -- U.S. Soldiers are required to retrain and qualify on their assigned weapon every year. This ensures that the perishable skill of marksmanship is never lost and troops are always trained and ready to "Fight Tonight."
While working together during a peninsula-wide exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, one group of Soldiers took weapons qualification to the next level with their host nation, during a combined live fire range exercise, Aug. 30. at the Republic of Korea Army Aviation Operations Command weapons range in Icheon, South Korea.
Training with host nation partners is nothing new, but these Soldiers shared something special this time around. Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and the Republic of Korea Army Aviation Operations Command established and conducted effective rifle marksmanship training on the Korean K1, K2 and the U.S. M16A2 rifles.
Chong Yim, brigade liaison officer with 2nd CAB, explained why this was a significant event worth participating in.
"I coordinated this event to facilitate and place emphasis on working with our Korean partners," said Yim. "The more we train with our allies, the better we understand their way of operating. They in turn learn our techniques and procedures and that's a win-win situation."
Yim also said the benefits from these types of events create the right conditions for future operational success. He said this combined training is just another step in strengthening the foundation of the U.S. and ROK relationship while enhancing combined interoperability.
Pfc. John P. Ross, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with HHC, 2nd CAB, 2nd Inf. Div., benefitted from the combined training event and expressed his opinion that the differences between both armies are not so different at all.
"I feel training with ROK soldiers helps us work and communicate better with one another," said Ross, a St. Petersburg, Fla. native. "We, as military personnel, are not much different. We're essentially the same in the sense that we train hard and go through some of the same proficiency requirements. These similar characteristics show we are not very different at all. This training opportunity not only strengthens our two nations, but our bond as people who fight for the same cause."
Both teams stood in formation together while they received a briefing from the range cadre. Once they understood the safety precautions, they secured ammunition and the Korean soldiers took up their positions in the firing pit first as 2nd CAB Soldiers lay by their side coaching and familiarizing them on the M16A2 prior to shooting. Shortly after, Yim gave the command: commence firing.
When finished, 2nd CAB Soldiers took their places and experienced for the first time what it was like to fire a K1 and K2 assault rifle.
"I was very surprised that the K2 had very little kickback and the mechanics were almost identical to the M16A1," said Ross.
Once everyone was qualified, they shook each other's hands just as good sportsmen do. These soldiers and the experiences they shared, continue the legacy of those who came before them. They seemingly work together shaping the future for generations to come ensuring 'We Go Together.'