The scenario pitted the technicians against the clock in a simulated wartime environment where network and phone cables were cut, preventing different locations from relaying information.
“While the specific scenario we worked on today was realistic, using real-world equipment, more important than anything was that we proved our ability to work together with our Korean counterparts,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Patrick Tibbals, 51st CS director of operations.
Instead of only simulating how to splice together cut cables and explaining the steps, the 51st CS Airmen literally reconnected a fully functional network that was set up specifically for the exercise.
ROKAF Airmen paid close attention to how U.S. Air Force Airmen did their job, taking pointers on some of the finer details of working with hair-thick wires.
While U.S. and ROK communications units often work together during exercises and simulations, boots-on-the-ground training like this is almost unheard of, said Tiballs.
The language barrier meant that the two groups of technicians had to put more effort into communicating with each other, but the commonality of their jobs and high work ethic allowed them to work together seamlessly.
“We have a set of skills that we brought to the table that is different than the ROKAF, and they have their skills,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Sly, 51st CS cable and antenna technician. “It would have taken me twice as long . . . [but] the ROKAF showed up and it went by phenomenally.”
Ultimately, the success of the exercise laid the foundation for even more cooperative drills in the future.
“As time goes on, the technology that we work with will change, but what won’t change is the importance of the relationship we have with our [ROK] counterparts here, and in the end, I think proving that will be the lasting result of this exercise,” said Tibbals.